November 1, 2020: Homily-Solemnity of All Saints

Today’s gospel, the Beatitudes, may be one of the most familiar in all of scripture. Its litany of what it means to be “blessed” can be seen as an outline for living the Christian life.

Today is also a day for us to pray to the saints, both the canonized and the uncanonized, asking them to pray on our behalf that we may live our lives in faithfulness like theirs, and so receive the same reward. All Saints Day is a day on which we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith.

We celebrate the feast of each canonized saint on a particular day of the year. But there are countless other saints and martyrs, men, women and children united with God in Heavenly glory, whose feasts we do not celebrate. Among these might be our own parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters and even friends who were heroic women and men of Faith. All Saints Day is intended to honor their memory.

Celebrating All Saints Day, the Church reminds us that God’s call for holiness is universal and that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness. We show holiness when we live lives of integrity and truth, that is, wholesome and integrated lives in which we are close to others while being close to God.

All baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory are considered saints. Saints were people like us, who lived good and holy lives, and now enjoy the rewards of eternal happiness in the presence of God and in the company of the angels and all the saints in heaven. But many people have a false idea of what a saint is. For them saints are people who never committed a sin in all their lives. People who were always shinning with virtue — strong willed, humble, pure, who never lost their patience, and who never thought of themselves but always of God and others. But this is not true. There is no such thing ”born saints” but that they became saints. They underwent a conversion — a change of heart which resulted in a change of life. This change did not happen overnight, but it was the result of a long and painful struggle.

To become a saint is to become real. It means that the real me/us, which is often hidden under layers of foolishness, finally emerges. All the hidden goodness and beauty that God has placed within me/us comes out. And it all starts with the realization that God loves me/us as I am/we are. The saints were people who believed the Good News of God’s unconditional love, and who began to return his love, and found their lives changed, not overnight, but through a gradual process of growth which didn’t rule out further falls.

Why do we honor the saints? Because…

1- The saints put their trust in Christ and lived heroic lives of Faith. St. Paul asks us to serve and honor such noble souls. In his Epistles to the Corinthians, to Philip and to Timothy, he advises Christians to welcome, serve and honor those who have put their trust in Jesus. The saints enjoy Heavenly bliss as a reward for their Faith in Jesus. Hence, they deserve our veneration of them.

2- The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness, with the grace of God, can be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.

3- The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,).

4- The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles, (just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles).

As we celebrate all saints today, We need to accept the challenge to become saints too. Jesus exhorts us: “Be made perfect as your Heavenly Father is Perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Augustine asked: “If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?” We all can become saints by doing good and avoiding evil, by choosing to follow Christ.

To end, let us consider thoughts of the three St. Teresas:

-St. Teresa of Avila: “Recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him.”
-St. Therese of Lisieux: “Convert every action into prayer by offering it to God for His glory and for the salvation of souls and by doing God’s will to the best of your ability.”
-St. Teresa of Calcutta (Mother Teresa): “Do ordinary things with great love. Do something beautiful for God.” Let us remember this, no one is born a saint, but every one of us, by the grace of God, can become one.

Father Bernie

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