Today, the Church celebrates the great festival of “all saints”- our recognition in an act of solemn worship that God in Christ has manifested his divine life and presence in the extraordinary men and women, who because of their heroic fidelity to the Gospel, now share communion in the fullness of Christ’s heavenly promises.
These holy men and women are the saints and we call upon the saints today as intercessors before the throne of heavenly grace and remember them as our friends.
The reality of the saints, who remain active participants in the life of the Church reminds us that we believe that we have received in Jesus Christ the gift of a life that is greater than life in this world. In truth, the purpose of our earthly life is not intended by God as an end in itself, but as a means of preparation for a far greater and more important world that follows this life.
Nothing that we have… Nothing that we are is meant as an end in itself. Instead, our lives, this world, and everything in this world, are meant to be a means through which God is drawing us so that we can know him and come to share in his own divine life.
The saints are the exemplars par excellence of this great truth of our faith.
What is a saint?
A saint means that one is holy as Christ is holy. If Jesus Christ is our holiness then we have given up the twisted idea that the spiritual life is a self-made, self directed project of our own making. Instead, true holiness means that we have giving ourselves over to God in obedience to his divine purposes and will- just as Christ gave himself over to the will and purposes of his Heavenly Father and he did so wholly and completely.
The saints, like Christ, reserve nothing for themselves- no part of their life or being remains untouched by the presence of God. The way of the saint is the way of Christ who in obedience to his Father, “emptied himself and took the form of a slave”.
This self emptying, the willingness to give one’s life over to God’s will and purposes, signals to us that there is nothing cheap or easy about the holiness of Christ. To be holy as Christ is holy necessitates that we change. It also means that we abandon our preference for what is safe, in favor of courageous risk. It means that we give up seeking emotional satisfaction and easy answers, along with the willfulness that seeks to use self-assertion as a means of controlling outcomes. Holiness in Christ recognizes the futility of spending our lives fixated on the trivial.
In other words, as long as the ego remains our idol, the holiness of Christ will prove to be elusive, nothing more than an abstract ideal, rather than an abundant and creative way of life.
Blessed John Henry Newman remarked that “God has created each of us for some definitive mission- God has not created us without a purpose”.
The saint accepts their mission, and in this acceptance, brings to fulfillment their purpose.
The mission and purpose of our lives is to be saints- to be holy as Christ as holy. All are summoned to be saints and the call to holiness is the primordial and universal vocation which all the baptized are meant to accept, aspire to and attain.
May all the saints help us! May the saints inspire us! May the saints intercede on our behalf! And may all the saints provoke us to give our lives over to Jesus Christ, allowing ourselves to be living representations of his holiness and routes of access to his divine life and love!