Today we reflect on the ‘huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language … standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes….’ These have followed the Lamb and have now received their reward.
In the gospel Jesus declares blessed those who have put everything behind them and placed Christ at the centre of their lives. The saints are the ‘poor in spirit’ who mourn, hunger and thirst and are merciful, and, as a reward, are children of God inheriting his kingdom.
We are all called to be saints. Created in the image and likeness of God, we are invited to share in the life of God here on earth, and finally in heaven, where ‘we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he really is!’
Reading the sermons and other writings of Joseph De Piro, one concludes that he often reflected on the lives of the saints, and this surely helped him in his Christian and priestly formation. He experienced his union with God through his reflection on the saints.
Among De Piro’ sermons, one finds at least twenty-three exhortations, inviting his listeners to imitate the lives of the saints. In a sermon about St Joseph, De Piro says that the saints are “… examples of the observance of God’s law.” Speaking about Francis of Assisi, the Servant of God said that the saints are “… champions, heroes who refresh the memory of Christ’s mortal life, to diffuse in the souls of the faithful new energy by which they can follow him on the way of the cross.”
In a homily about St Anthony of Padua, De Piro asserts that “… what, in of God’s eyes, amplifies and makes the soul of the saints precious, is, without doubt, their practice of virtue.” Speaking about St John Berchmans, De Piro said that the saints are, “…intimate friends of God, examples of the observance of his holy law, models of perfection and of sanctity …” and “… real followers of Christ …”
The saints were an efficient means uniting De Piro with God.