Brothers and sisters, as the Letter to the Hebrews tells us, we have approached Heaven even as we remain on earth. Though we are dust and sinners, we stand before Jesus, the eternal Father, and the Holy Spirit. We draw near to each other and they invite us to share more deeply in their friendship. And they are not alone. They are surrounded by countless angels and by a multitude of men and women whom they have made perfect in goodness and love. We have a name for these “holy ones” who live with God in Heaven. We call them “saints,” and Jesus invites us to share their friendship, too.
Have you ever had the pleasure to introduce your friends to each other; people who already know and enjoy you, but who have never met each other? I think you’ll agree that it’s a very special joy when your friends to befriend each other. When your friends befriend each other do they love you less because of it, as if their affection has been divided or diluted? No, the love between all of you is greater for being shared. So it is with Jesus, the saints, and us. Some Christians fear that befriending Jesus’ friends in Heaven will lessen our love for Him. They fear that talking to them and honoring them will distract us from Christ. But these are silly fears. Love increases by being shared.
When someone asks you, “Would you pray for me,” or asks you to pray for one of their heartfelt concerns, what do you say in reply? Do you refuse, saying, “Why should you ask me to pray for you when you can go directly to God?” Nobody says that. Instead, Christians say, “Of course I’ll pray for you.” Christians ask each other to intercede for them not because they have lost hope in Christ, but because they have it, and because Scriptures tell us, “pray for one another.” Asking our friends and family in Heaven to pray for us is no different than asking our friends and family on earth, except that the prayers of the saints are offered by souls perfected in love and divine intimacy.
What about the objection that honoring the saints distracts from Christ? Today’s Gospel shows that Jesus does not think that sharing honor with His saints detracts from His own preeminent glory. He has said to them, “My friend, move up to a higher position. Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table.” By giving seats of honor to His saints at His heavenly wedding banquet Jesus invites us to esteem them. In honoring them, we honor Him.
Remember that our circle of closest family and friends is not limited to earth. We have brothers and sisters in Heaven; saints and angels who know us, love us, and want to help us arrive at our true home. Let us remember to take the opportunity to make their acquaintance and grow in their friendship.