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I was about to take the youth group to Six Flags Great Adventure. while I was gathering up some permission slips, one of the chaperones came in and told me that too many kids showed up and that I had to turn away some of them. I looked out the window and saw about 30 kids standing in front of the bus. I said, “We should have enough room; tell them to go on the bus.” She said, “The bus is already full. We need to send some of the kids away.” I said, “We don’t have to send anyone away.” I made a call and got another bus. Every kid was important, and it was decisions like that one that got me five awards for outstanding work with young people from the state.

If I do go to heaven, and St. Peter asks me for some proof that I lived a good life, I will not have these awards to bring with me to show for my work with the youth. I threw them all away in a dumpster. I do have a mark on my hand that I will show St. Peter. During one of the youth meetings, the kids were getting excited and started to fool around with each other. Somehow I got stabbed in the palm of my hand with a pencil. Kids! The lead in the pencil left a permanent blue dot on my palm. While I am at it, I will also show St. Peter my head because I used to have thick black hair before I started this youth group.

I say all this because in the Book of Revelation there is a vision of one hundred and forty-four thousand saints praising God in heaven. If you do the math, it is twelve times twelve hundred.  The twelve represents the twelve tribes of Israel; the 1200 is a symbol that everyone in the tribe makes it to heaven. It is also noted that everyone has a tattoo, a mark, or a bodily defect. The mark shows they belong to God. Everyone who goes to heaven will have a marking that they gained during the trials and tribulations of living Christ’s life on earth. I have my mark on my palm and my receding hair line. My father will show St. Peter his calluses on his hands for his sixty-five years of construction work to support his family. My mother is in heaven with wrinkles on her face from all the times she used her facial muscles in anxiety, joy, and grief when raising five boys. My brother claims he has a scar on his right butt-cheek for all the times he had to pull out his wallet to pay for sporting goods, tuition, and dental care for the kids. I know a nun who is going to heaven with bags under her eyes for the many hours this good woman worked at Children’s Hospital giving support to broken-hearted parents. Even Jesus’ body is deformed with holes in his hands and feet. If he takes off his shirt you will see a large scar across his chest. We all got these marks and deformities through pain and suffering that we endured during our lifetime. They are all sacrifices that we have made in life for the benefit of others. In heaven, these marks and deformities will be beautiful. We will see how we sacrificed for one another. These marks are our solidarity and loyalty to one another. They are beautiful and they will never be erased.

On the feast day of All Saints, we are reminded that we are all united by our marks of good works and actions. The marks we bear on our bodies hurt and give us pain now but one day they will be very beautiful and our sacrifices will never be forgotten, ever.

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