Thursday, 1 November 2018 : Solemnity of All Saints (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, celebrating the glory of those whom the Church has examined and deemed officially to be worthy of the everlasting glory of heaven, to be together with God and to be in His presence after they passed on from this world, without the need to pass through the purifying flames of purgatory.

The saints were those whom the Church has accorded this dignity, by the virtue of its authority, that after their lives have been carefully scrutinised, their actions and works, inspirations and writings have been evaluated, they were deemed to be sufficient of being accorded the honour of immediate glory of heaven. And that is why, one of the requirements of someone to be declared a saint, is for the saint to have performed some miracles among the people of God, through intercession in their name.

And this brings us to the fact that the saints are not those who are distant from us, but instead, they are part of the same Church that we are in, and although they have already passed on from this world, but they are not distant or forgotten from us. Neither do they forget us, all of us, their relatives, their friends and peers, and as fellow brothers and sisters in the

Lord, all those who are still living in this world filled with sin and darkness.

The saints are constantly praying for us, before the throne of God, interceding for our sake, and hoping that through their prayers and by God’s grace, we may turn away from sin and repent from all of our wicked ways, that one day, we too may join them all, in honouring and glorifying God in heaven, in His presence, through our genuine conversion of heart and faith in Him.

But we also should not think of the saints as those who are superhuman or extraordinary beings beyond our reach. In fact, all of us are called to follow their examples in holiness and to be holy ourselves. All of us have this potential in us, to become saints through our own actions and deeds, which are in accordance with God’s will. The saints themselves once walked this world, and they were sinners just like ourselves, before their glorification in heaven.

Yes, all saints were also sinners once, with the sole exception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, who has been especially prepared by God, to be free from the taints of sin, in order to be the worthy vessel and Ark of the New Covenant, Christ Himself, that by bearing God in her, she is also pure from all taints of sin and corruption of evil. All other saints were sinners, some were venial in nature, but some were in fact notorious in their wickedness.

Take for example, St. Augustine of Hippo, who was once an adulterer and great sinner, who engaged in all sorts of hedonistic behaviour and lifestyle during his younger days, when he was tempted by the many worldly pursuits and temptations, following the wrong paths and the wrong ideas, influenced by his peers and friends. But through the constant prayers of his mother, St. Monica, and by God’s grace, St. Augustine eventually saw the errors of his ways, repented and turned towards God with a newfound faith.

And we know of St. Matthew, one of the Twelve Apostles of the Lord, who was a tax collector among the people. Tax collectors at that time were known to be corrupt, and they helped the Romans to oppress the people through harsh imposition of taxes, that the people had to pay to the Roman government, through the intermediary of the tax collectors, some if not many of whom, were corrupt.

But St. Matthew listened to the Lord’s call when He called him to follow Him. He abandoned all of his works and his profession, and committing himself to the Lord, he turned away from the sins of his profession and instead of collecting and seeking for money from the people, he became a collector of souls of the people for the Lord, by saving them from their own sins, through his courageous defence of the faith and by his inspirational Gospel, the Gospel of St. Matthew that became the source of faith for countless people.

There were many other saints who were even murderers, prostitutes and also sinners in the eyes and opinion of most of the people. And yet, interestingly, these also became saints in the end. How is that possible, brothers and sisters in Christ? It is indeed possible, because God’s grace and mercy is so vast, that as long as we are willing to embrace His love and mercy, His forgiveness for our sins and have that courage and commitment to carry on living our lives with a renewed faith and direction, then everything is possible for God.

The Lord Himself mentioned before the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law how the tax collectors and prostitutes were going on ahead on the journey towards the kingdom of God as compared to the former. That is because the tax collectors and the prostitutes made the conscious effort to seek God’s forgiveness and mercy, and opened their hearts and minds, to allow the Lord to enter into them and made a change and difference in their lives, while the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law hardened themselves with pride, and refused to listen to the truth of God.

It is important that we recognise in each and every one of us, the potential to be saints. The Lord has given to us all, those who are now saints, all of us living and present in the world today, and even those who have willingly chosen condemnation and eternal suffering in hell, all of us received the same gifts, the same love and the same grace from God. But what God has given us, will not bear good fruits of faith as desired, unless we do something about what God gave us.

The saints of God are called the members of the Church Triumphant, for they have won against death just as the Lord Himself had done. They have won for themselves, by the grace of God, an eternity of glory, peace and joy with the Lord, for their righteousness, good actions and faithfulness. And they should be our role models in how we live our lives, as we, who are still living in this world, are the members of the Church Militant.

This was why I mentioned earlier that while the saints are no longer physically with us in this world, but they are still together with us, and the holy souls in purgatory, the Church Suffering, part of the same one Church of God. And the saints inspire each one of us to live according to how they have lived, in their courageous living of their faith, and in their great dedication to the Lord, which is why they are now part of the great Church Triumphant.

All of us can also be saints, just as all saints, with the exception of Mary, were sinners too once. What is important is that, they all experienced genuine conversion in life, turning away from their past sins and wickedness, and embracing fully God’s ways and truth through their lives. Many of them even had to endure suffering and persecutions for God’s sake, because of their total conversion and radical change in life.

And for those who charge that we are committing idolatry by worshipping the saints, we also must be very clear why we have this devotion to saints of God. The saints are not glorified by their own power, glory or deeds. They are not like God, but instead, they reflect the glory of God through their actions and deeds in life. A comparison can be made on the beautiful stained glasses in our churches, where we usually wonder at their beauty and marvel at the amazing work of art found in them.

However, stained glass that is left in the darkness cannot be seen, just as in a darkened church, the stained glass cannot be seen either, as the stained glass do not emit light on its own. But when light passes through the stained glass, the beauty of the stained glass is shown, because of the light that passes through it, which illuminates the stained glass. In the similar way, the saints are glorified and venerated, not because their own power, virtue or glory, but because of God’s work through their lives. God is the source of all the glory and honour.

And when we venerate the saints, we give even greater glory to God, for the saints are servants of God, and when His servants are glorified and honoured, of course He is also glorified and honoured even more. But today, we need to realise that the best way to honour and venerate the saints, are not for us to go and touch their relics, or to visit their shrines and places of honour. The best way for us to honour and venerate the saints, is for us to emulate their examples and follow in their footsteps, in living our faith in the way that the Lord had shown us through those same saints.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, therefore, as we rejoice together with all the saints and holy men and women of God in heaven, the Church Triumphant today, on this Solemnity of All Saints, let us all, as members of the Church Militant, strive to do our best in our lives, to lead a holy and faithful life, from now on if we have not done so thus far. Let us all seek to follow the examples of the saints, and do our best to keep ourselves close to God, by having a deep personal relationship with Him.

Let us all turn away from our sins, and from our wicked ways, and instead, commit ourselves to a prayerful life, to a loving existence to all those whom we encounter in life, by showing love, care and concern for all those who we meet in life, to our friends and family members, to our relatives and to even strangers that we encounter in our daily living. Let us all turn towards God with all of our hearts, and commit ourselves wholeheartedly just as the saints of God had done.

And today, as we also prepare for the Feast of All Souls tomorrow, also pray for the sake of the holy souls in purgatory, the souls of the faithful departed, who are still longing for the glory of heaven, but because of their residual sins, have to wait in the purifying flames of purgatory. Let us pray for them together with the saints, and ask them to pray for us as well, that we may turn completely from sin, and avoid falling into purgatory, or worse still, hell. May the Lord be with us always, and may He always be glorified through the glory of His saints! Amen.

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