The process of formal canonization can be very selective and even sometimes political. Men greatly outnumber women, there are few married saints and of those most are royalty and many are widows. There are relatively few lay folk. The feast of All Saints addresses this situation. Here we celebrate the many people we have known, who led holy lives but whose virtue often went unmarked. We think of those who cared tirelessly for the sick and the elderly, of children suffering from painful or disabling illnesses, of people who put themselves in danger to save others and neighbours who looked our for one another. The beatitudes in today’s gospel proclaim their goodness.
We might reflect on the beautiful picture that John paints of the heavenly court, where the saints are gathered round the throne of the Lamb. We can look upon the faces we have known in our lifetime and perhaps the Elder will point out some whose sanctity we did not recognise. They are all now eternally happy, basking in the light which is the love of God.