Living Saints

Sunday Reflection

1st November 2020

'the Feast of All Saints'

Every year
on the first of November
we celebrate the Feast of All Saints.

In our worship,
we consciously join ourselves
to the saints in heaven.
Why do we honour all of the saints?

In the early days of the Church,
martyrs were remembered
on the anniversary of their death.
The first three centuries
were times of persecution
for Christians.

The number of martyrs increased
dramatically during that time.
The number of free days
in the calendar decreased rapidly.
Finally, in the fourth century,
one day in the year was set aside
to commemorate all the saints
who couldn't be fitted into the calendar.
The Church has widely observed
the festival of All Saints
continuously since about the year 600.

Originally kept on May 13th
it was moved to Nov 1st
around 735
and has remained there ever since.

The important saints continued
to have a day set aside
for their remembrance.
The lesser saints became part
of the "communion of saints"
that was remembered on All Saints Day.

If you read through
the New Testament
you will find there are
62 references to "saints"
and that St. Paul used the term
44 times to refer to
the Church on earth
and that the word even appeared
in the Hebrew Scriptures.

Saint Paul says
that we are one of the saints,
in Greek "hagios" holy ones.
How can this be?
Saints were on earth,
not exclusively in heaven?
We people of God
are all sorts of saints.
Scary thought isn't it?

That is probably
the most difficult thing
for any of us to accept.
We do not like to think
of ourselves as being holy.
Somehow that is not cool.
are we not supposed to be humble?

It is probably okay
once in a while on a Sunday
to actually be seen praying.
But to recognize our call
to be a saint!
That is asking too much.

Why, we might have to change
the way we live our lives.
We might have to acknowledge
that we are Christians.
We might have to admit
to our friends that we follow Christ.

We might have to acknowledge
our sense of community,
our sense of belonging
to the body of Christ.
We might have to make a commitment.
We might have to live up
to the promises of our baptism.

That is why it is so important
to celebrate the lives
of the saints.
Awareness of the saints
hopefully awakens in us
the urge to live
in the company of all the saints
who have heard the call
to absolute love
and responded with eager faith.

C.S. Lewis wrote,
  "How little people know
   who think that holiness is dull.
   When one meets the real thing,
   it is irresistible."

So how do we come to the place
where it becomes irresistible to us
and we accept our call to holiness?

It begins, I suspect,
with discovering that
even the greatest of saints
was a real person;
fallible, like us.
Learning about their lives
should convince us
that they were real people
with real struggles
convincing us of their humanity.

What does it mean
to be one of God's saints?
Mother Teresa, who died in 1996,
was often referred to as a living saint.

In 1982,
during a visit to San Francisco
to mark the 800th anniversary
of the birth of St. Francis of Assisi,
the diminutive nun
was asked how it feels
to be called "a living saint."

"Possibly, people see Jesus in me,"
  she replied.
"But we can see Jesus in each other.
  Holiness is meant for all people."

It doesn't take a genius
to know that she was a saintly person.
Her work
amongst the poorest of the poor
shows a dedication to the gospel
that is so rarely seen.

I read somewhere
that Modern Christians
tended to have
hard crusty exteriors
but soft inner cores.
The problem is God calls us
to have a solid core
and soft exterior -
we are 'work in progress'.

A while ago I passed someone
wearing a T-shirt
with the slogan
  "Be patient,
   God is not finished with me yet!"
on the back was
   "Work in progress"

I wish I could have found out
where he got it, I'd love one!

It is a humbling,
yet awe inspiring thought,
to know that when we worship God,
we are joining our worship
with every Christian
in heaven and on earth
from the beginning of time
until the present day.

We can know that
no matter what happens,
we are Saints.
And no one can
take that away from us.

May we live as the saints we are called to be.