Growing up, one of my favorite church songs was Dan Schutte’s Table of Plenty. What captivated me then are probably not the same things that keep me humming its tune today. The theological vision of an abundant feast where all of God’s children were welcome and celebrated are cause for reflection, especially for our readings to celebrate today’s Solemnity of All Saints.
The first reading and responsorial psalm both center on a gathering of believers. The theologian Catherine Cory writes that this scene in Revelation gives us a glimpse of when God’s reign is made manifest—when all will be gathered together.
On the other hand, the second part of our psalm is concerned about who has access to a place of worship. Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount details to crowd the demands of his followers and addresses the concern of our psalm. The theologian Barbara Reid argues that Christian discipleship is more than righteous actions but about living in “right relationship with God, self, others, and all creation.”
These two themes of worship and right relationship inform our understanding of the holy people we celebrate today. For a great number of the saints, holiness did not rest on regular mass attendance or regular practice of devotionals. These Servants of God allowed their encounter with God to inform how they lived and moved in the world. Just like in our second psalm, they are the people that “longed to see God’s face” in all of creation. They longed to see the excluded having a seat at the table of plenty that God has provided. Thus, longing to see God’s face ultimately rests on how we live in right relationship.
As we celebrate the lives and works of the Saints, may we reflect on how we “long to see God’s face” in those we encounter everyday, especially in the poor and marginalized. An even better question would be: How are you actively living in right relationship?
James Paul Gumataotao is a theology teacher and campus minister at Cristo Rey Boston. A native son of Guam, he studied theology and education at the University of Portland, and is a graduate of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. Prior to moving to Boston, he taught in Fairbanks, AK as a high school teacher.