Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, that coincides with a Sunday this year. On this day, which marks the celebration of the glory of all the saints, holy men and women of God. All the innumerable saints of God are an integral part of our Christian faith and the Church as well.
Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, the saints are very much part of the Church, as the Church Triumphant, which are part of the Universal Church together with us, the Church Militant, those who are still in this world struggling daily in the spiritual struggles for our souls and enduring the lives in this world, and of course also the Church Suffering, made up of those souls of the faithful departed in purgatory, still waiting for their time to enter the glory of Heaven.
All these three groups are part of the whole Universal Church, and are united in our faith together in God. And today we focus our attentions on those who have been officially proclaimed by the Church to merit the official veneration as saints, through the process known as Canonisation. All the saints through their various virtues and through courageous witness of their faith have been declared as worthy of heavenly glory and veneration by all Christians.
There are those who misunderstood our veneration of saints, a practice that had originated from the very beginning of the Church itself, and which had roots even from before the time of Christ, as the people in Jesus’ time did believe that some of the holy people were in heaven, like that of Enoch who was taken up into heaven, as was the prophet Elijah and others like Abraham, alluded in the Lord’s parable when He spoke of the story of Lazarus and the rich man.
All of these pointed out to the universal belief of the Church and the faithful that there were those whom God had called and excelled such that they merited the glory of Heaven, and that they are our intercessors, namely those who pray for us before God. Those who misunderstood this veneration of saints drew their misunderstanding from the excesses and the lack of proper catechism for those who venerated the saints.
Yes, brothers and sisters in Christ, there are numerous devotions to the saints, chief and most popular of which is of course that of Mary, the Mother of God herself and the greatest among all the saints. Also we have St. Joseph, St. Peter and St. Paul, the other Apostles, particularly St. Jude, patron of hopeless and lost cases. In more recent saints we have devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, St. Teresa of Calcutta, Pope St. John Paul II among others.
But many of those who practiced the devotions and venerated these saints sadly did not fully understand what they were doing. They adored the saints as if they were like God and became superstitious in their practices, thinking that the saints could grant them whatever it is that they wanted. They thought of the saints as miracle and wonder worker for their own various desires, giving them the answer to what they wanted.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is we often get wrong about saints. Saints are not like gods and goddesses, deities like that of other beliefs and religions. On the contrary, saints exist and are declared as such by the Church to glorify God, and to elevate the glory of God even further by the examples and faith of the saints. And they also serve as inspirations and good examples for us to follow that we ourselves too can become holy as they are. Through their intercessions, they brought our petitions with them and presenting them before the Lord.
If someone were to ask why do we seek the intercession of the saints, then we can indeed explain it in this way, that we are asking these wonderful, pious and faithful predecessors of ours to pray for us, just like how we ask our friends and one another to pray for us and for them. If we can ask those who are still in this world to pray for us, then why can’t and shouldn’t we ask those whose lives have been deemed and considered holy and pious that they are now standing in the glorious presence of God?
As the saints are nearer to God than us, and especially more so that of Mary, the Lord’s own mother, then surely with more people praying for us, our prayers will be so much more powerful. Through our combined prayers, God will work wonders, and through the intercessions of the saints on our behalf, God will help and provide for us in our hour of need. Indeed, it is so wonderful to know that we are all not alone in this journey of faith, and besides all those whom we know to be journeying with us in this world, we have even those who have gone before us, and praying for us, journeying with us and showing us the way.
We have all been called to be holy like all of those saints, as in truth, all of us have the potential to be saints. Just less than a month ago, a young teenager who was a computer geek and a seemingly ordinary young man was just beatified, and is now known as Blessed Carlo Acutis. He had deep faith in God and devotion to the saints, especially that of Mary, the Mother of God of whom he documented the many Marian apparitions as well as the many Eucharistic miracles that more people might come to know of them, just before he passed away due to leukaemia.
We also have many examples of saints who were once wretched and sinful. For example, St. Mary Magdalene was once according to tradition, an adulterer and had committed terrible deeds and sins before God. Yet, she was completely remorseful and sought to be forgiven and reconciled with God. And indeed, the Lord welcomed her back with open hands, and she became one of His closest and most trusted followers, whose faith and conversion experience became inspiration for many from then on.
There were many other examples of sinners turned saints throughout the history of the Church, and all of them can teach and show us that, no one is beyond God’s redemption, forgiveness and mercy. As long as one is willing to turn away from their sins and embrace wholeheartedly the Lord’s path and willingly walk in His path, then the path of the glory of Heaven will be open to us. We are all called to be like the saints in their lives and actions, in their contributions and efforts as the members of the same Church of God.
Saints are often compared to the beautiful stained glasses in our churches, which also frequently used to depict the lives of those saints. Surely we have had the experience of seeing how those stained glasses were so beautiful and wonderful, and they made the whole church became even more conducive for worship and for us to recognise the presence of God within. That is exactly how saints are like, brothers and sisters in Christ, for they are the stained glasses that give out no light on their own, but with light passing through them, their beauty are revealed to all to see.
And all of us are also like those stained glasses, brothers and sisters in Christ! Our lives in this world, our every actions and interactions, all shall either show holiness and faith, or instead, wickedness and evil. Just as there are those saints whose lives bring inspiration and hope to others, and righteousness and justice, there are also those who scandalised the Church and the faith by their actions, and by their refusal to repent and change their ways. The Lord said, nothing that is secret will stay hidden, and the light will reveal everything. So, just as good deeds will be discovered, our wicked deeds, no matter how hidden, will eventually be revealed.
Which one do we want to be then, brothers and sisters in Christ? Do we want to be those whose lives bring sadness, sorrow and suffering for others, by our own selfish actions, by our lack of faith and irresponsible behaviour and attitudes that led to others to question their faith, scandalising this Christian faith we have? Or do we rather be like the saints, whose lives bring about hope, renewal of faith and courage for one to love God?
God has given us free will to choose which path we want to take, and we have so many good examples to choose from the saints. If we wonder why is it that so many people have passed through this world, and yet, out of them, even though we have had so many people recognised as saints and blesseds, but all of these are still minuscule compared to the whole of mankind, that is exactly because it is so difficult to become saints unless we consciously make the effort to resist the temptations of evil in our world today.
All of us must realise that each and every one of us have the potential to be saints, and indeed, we are all called to be saints, to share in the love and grace of God. God has given us His love and blessings, and His sanctifying grace through our baptism. Through His Holy Spirit that He has given to us, He has given us faith and wisdom, the wisdom to choose what is right from what is wrong. Now, what matters is whether our love for Him is greater than our attachments to sin and evil, and whether our faith is stronger than the temptations that face us constantly and daily, all around us.
Today, as we celebrate and rejoice in the memory of all the glorious saints of God, let us all ask them all for their intercessions, especially from our blessed Mother Mary, and our own respective patron saints. Let us all ask for their continued intercession that God may strengthen us all in our resolve to live faithfully and walk with ever greater commitment in the path that He has set before us. Let us all look ever more carefully on the examples of the saints, holy men and women who had gone before us, and gain inspirations from their good examples, that we may also do the same in our own lives.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, let us all be like the saints in all things, live as they had lived and model our own faith lives like their own. May the Lord, through the intercession of His many saints, help us and strengthen us all to be more courageous and committed to serve Him, and to love Him, becoming ourselves great examples of faith and inspirations to even more people. May God bless us all in all things and in all of our good endeavours and efforts. O Holy saints of God, our inspiration and source of hope, pray for us all, your brothers and sisters still struggling in this world, that we may one day join all of you in the glory of Heaven to praise God together. Amen.