Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today is a major solemnity and feast day of the Church, where together with all of the entire Church, with all the faithful living here now on earth, we rejoice together for all the holy ones whom God had chosen and called from among us, to be those considered worthy to receive the glory of heaven. They are the saints, the holy men and women whom by the virtues of their lives and their actions have been found and deemed worthy by the Church.
Sainthood truly does not determine whether one goes to heaven or hell, or whether one is worthy of it. Despite the large number of saints we have today, thousands of them if not more, but if only the saints are worthy of heaven, then we have to remember that there have been countless billions and tens of billions of people who lived throughout history. Have the rest all went to hell and be condemned? The answer is no.
There are many countless other men and women whom by their lives’ virtues, their works and deeds are truly worthy of heaven, and their names have been written securely in the Book of Life for the day of judgment. It is just that the Church did not proclaim them officially as saints, as sainthood is in fact just an official recognition of one’s deeds, because of their outstanding and extraordinary quality, would become a great source of inspiration to others who look up to them as role models and examples.
Yes, the saints are our role models, and we ought to follow in their footsteps. After all, they have lived their lives to the fullest, and by close and exhausting scrutiny of these, the Church had found them to be exemplary and by the wisdom of God and the authority God has given His Church, It declares that so and so man or woman truly deserve and is without doubt, already a denizen and a dweller of heaven, enjoying the eternal grace of God.
Yet there are those who thought that we Christians are no different from the pagans because we apparently worshipped the saints and prayed to them. I have to admit that this is one area where even many members of the Church are still not properly instructed or educated in, and many are not aware of who saints truly are, and how they can help us.
Jesus did say that if we believe in the Lord and keep our faith in Him, we will be called the children of God, and St. Paul and the Church also taught us that if we die and leave behind our earthly life in justice and righteousness, we shall share in the glory and in the fullness of God’s grace, and having all of our sins shed away from us, we shall be glorious and mighty as we share together the divinity of Christ. However, this does not make us gods in our own right.
Rightfully therefore, the saints themselves are glorious and honoured not because they have ascended in might by their own power, and neither do they have any power on their own separate from the power and authority of God. They share forever God’s glory in heaven, and they shall not know any more fear, death or darkness, for God is with them, and they are with God.
Rather, what we have to know is that the saints are our intercessors, those who help us deliver our prayer to the Lord. Then, indeed, one may ask, why not we ourselves then ask for our own behalf, and why must we ask someone else to pray for us? Then, in order to answer this, we just have to look throughout the Holy Scriptures, how many people at different times and periods, asked for each other for prayers and intercessions.
Do you remember what did Jesus tell the people about gathering in prayer? He told them and His disciples that when two or more are gathered in His Name, He shall be present there and He shall listen to their prayers. Thus, shall it indeed not be more beneficial for us to have even more people praying for our sake? The saints, having ascended to the presence of God, now sees with the sight of God, and surely, having been sinners themselves, they also understood how grievous our sins are, all of us still living in this world.
And having shared the glory and joy of the Lord, they also now share the love of God, and having been righteous as they were, surely in their love both for God and for their fellow men, they are also greatly concerned about us who are still living and struggling in this world against wickedness, evil and all forms of sins. If we are not careful about this, and continue to dwell in the darkness, then we risk falling into the trap of eternal damnation and hell from which there can be no escape.
As mentioned, the saints are not ‘gods’ in that they do not use or project their own might and power unlike those so-called pagan gods of old, where the people worshipped them as beings that could deliver them from trouble, provide them with something, dealing with things magical and supernatural, changing the world and the elements. No, the saints are not like these, and if we have had this misconception, then it is important that we now know the difference.
Those who pray to the saints and ask them for deliverance, or hoping that they can deliver them from trouble, or asking for favours from them in worldly things are misguided and mistaken in their understanding about the saints, who they are and how they work to help us in our way towards salvation. That is exactly who they are, our friends and our peers who had gone ahead of us, and now that they are close to God, they are our best allies and those whose prayers are most dear to God.
Remember what happened at the wedding held at Cana? That was where Jesus performed His very first miracle, turning the water into wine, and in the process, helped save the bride and the bridegroom and their families from great shame. Jesus was initially reluctant to help them, as He felt that it was not yet His time to reveal Himself by such work of miracles and power. Yet, it was through Mary, His mother and her persuasion of Jesus, that He allowed Himself to reveal to the people a portion of the truth of who He is.
Mary, the mother of our Lord, is the greatest, most honoured and most esteemed of all the saints, and in heaven, she is the closest one to the throne of God, her own beloved Son. Just as she had pleaded with her Son to help the couple at the wedding held at Cana, and He heard her, surely if we ask her to intercede for our sake and pray for us, He will be more willing to hear us and show His mercy to us.
The same applies for all the other saints as well, whom we ask daily to intercede for us on our behalf, that God will help us on our way, so that in times of challenge and difficulty, during times of persecution and extreme suffering, and in times when our bodies and even our minds are assailed by temptations of the devil and by his wicked tempters, God may send to us His angels and other forms of guidance to help prevent us from falling into sin and darkness.
In all these, we have to realise that we as the Church of God are not alone in this world and in the constant battle, the spiritual battle of our souls. Those who have departed from us are not gone from us, and they are still with us, unless they themselves have given themselves to be lost, namely those who have been thrown into hell and eternal damnation.
In fact, we know three Churches, the three aspects and parts of the Church Universal, that is the Church Militant, all of us living and still fighting against the devil and his works, and who are still constantly having a daily struggle in this world to uphold our faith and defend it against the wickedness of evil. And then, there are the saints and martyrs, who are the Church Triumphant, those who have gone before us and have been deemed as righteous and worthy of heaven. They are still there, with us and praying for us.
But we must not forget, just as tomorrow we shall celebrate All Souls’ Day, that there is the third part of the Church Universal, namely the Church Suffering, the good souls in purgatory awaiting for their entry into the glory of heaven. They are suffering the residual consequences of their sins, and as they suffer, they also want us all still living in this world to overcome our own sins and to get rid of them so that we will not suffer like they now do.
I will elaborate in greater detail on this in tomorrow’s homily, but in the end of the day, as we gather together to rejoice with all of the people of God, with all the saints and martyrs, with the angels and with all of creation, let us realise how good God is, and how much love He is showing and pouring down upon us. Let us ask the good saints, principally the mother of our Lord, Mary, to pray for us, all sinners and unworthy to be in the presence of God, so that God may awaken in us the courage and power to live our lives filled with faith and total devotion.
May Almighty God be with us, and may He guide us on our path, and help us so that we will have the courage to overcome our pride, our desires and all the things that have blocked our path towards the Lord. Let us not be overcome by evil and by our own shortcomings, but let us be ever more faithful and be more committed to the Lord our God. God bless us all. Amen.