Solemnity of All Saints
The Roar for Which We Hope
The Roar for Which We Hope
Readings: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a
I grew up in the heyday of the Kallang Roar. This was when the National Stadium was relatively new, and Singapore was still playing in the Malaysia Cup. It was a time when every Singaporean knew the names Quah Kim Song, Dollah Kassim and S. Rajagopal. I remember going to Kallang with my family to watch the matches. The atmosphere was electric. It seemed everyone was supporting the same side, except the opposing team, and, of course, the poor referee.
But today what I’m reminded of most is what it was like when we scored a goal, especially when we were the underdogs, or had been trailing for some time. It’s difficult to describe the feeling. You had to be there. It seemed as though the whole stadium – about 55,000 people – rose to its feet as one body, and with one voice roared its approval. Gooooal!!! The joy, the thrill, the exhilaration… absolutely incredible! I never thought of it then, but at those times, I’d surely have hated to have been on the opposing team.
Why, you might wonder, on an occasion like this, are we reminiscing about the good ole days of the Kallang Roar? Quite simply – although it pales in comparison – it’s the closest thing in my own experience to the scene described in the first reading today: a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language… shouting in unison: Victory to our God… and to the Lamb! It’s not Kallang, but if that’s not a roar, I don’t know what is.
This is what we are celebrating today, isn’t it? Not just an ordinary goal but the ultimate triumph of the home team. Not just any ordinary goal-scorer but Christ, the Lamb of God himself, who was slain and now lives no more to die. Today, we celebrate all the diehard supporters of Christ the ultimate underdog who won for us the final victory. Joyfully we remember all those who remained on the side of Christ even when the going was tough.
These are the people who continued to hope even when others laughed at their foolishness. They are the ones who, when tempted with the corrupting influences of power and wealth, chose to remain gentle and poor in spirit. When, in spite of everything that is wrong with our world, everyone else seemed blissfully indifferent, they mourned in secret. When others were seeking popularity and fame at all cost, they hungered for what is right. When others were judgmental, they were merciful. When others were starting and prolonging wars and conflicts, they sought to make peace. Throughout all their troubles, they remained faithful. They kept clean hands and pure heart… desired not worthless things. Indeed, these are the people who have been through the great persecution, and have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.
Yes, these are the ones we celebrate today. Like the other fans at the National Stadium, the vast majority of these will be unknown to us. But there will also be those who are familiar: relatives, friends, colleagues, neighbours, fellow-parishioners. Yes, perhaps even former members of the national soccer team, or a referee. They’re all there, their arms and voices raised:
And we share their joy today because we too consider ourselves on the same team. In some way, the Lamb’s triumph, their triumph, is also our own. Even as we celebrate these saints in heaven, we too cherish the desire one day to take our places beside them. And because each of us entertains this hope we fervently pray that through their intercession, we may also purify ourselves and try to be as pure as Christ. So that when that final whistle blows, we too may find ourselves on the winning team.
Sisters and brothers, may we see one another there when that day comes…