I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, “Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel:
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved. http://www.usccb.org/bible/approved-translation
“Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from?” There have been saints in the past and there are saints today. We say of someone “she’s a living saint” or “he’s going straight up to heaven.” The story of a saint is always a story about a God who loves us and a man or woman who tries to respond to God’s love. Not that their lives are always easy; often they can be quite difficult. As one of them once said to me: “I just thank God everyday for letting me get my big toe wet in an ocean of misery.”
We recognize “saints” because in their presence we suddenly feel refreshed by God’s Spirit. No one can hide that kind of love. The late poet, Anne Sexton, says in one of her poems: “Love and a cough cannot be concealed./Even a small cough./Even a small love.”
—Fr. Paul Harman, S.J. is a Jesuit of the USA Northeast Province. He has worked in Jesuit formation and over many years has been a valued administrator at the College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA.
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
All who by faith before the world confessed.
Your name, O Jesus, before ever blest:
—Text: William W. Howe, © Oxford University PressPlease share the Good Word with your friends!