01 November 2008 - All Saints
To strive to become a saint means to strive to achieve purity in body and soul. A saint is a person who has fully surrendered their life to Jesus Christ.
The greatest desire that anyone can have in this life is to strive passionately after holiness of life, in order that we might enter heaven once this life is over.
There are some people who think that since God is all loving and only humans are judgmental everyone will go to heaven no matter what. God in His mercy will see to it.
So why bother worrying about sanctity? Somehow through the mercy of God, I’ll get to Heaven.
We often hear this idea expressed at funerals where everyone automatically is placed safely in the arms of Jesus no matter what kind of life they lived. To do this is a falsity that is contrary to the Gospel.
And so we know then that, unfortunately, not everyone will be safely in the arms of Jesus when they die although everyone will have had the chance to do so.
In order to go to heaven one must be a saint. And sainthood is only achieved by the Grace of God.
If we end our lives on this earth as a saint without the smallest stain or imperfection on our soul then we immediately enter heaven.
If we end our lives on this earth as an unrepentant sinner with serious sins such as murder or adultery on our souls then we end up in hell. If we die with a slight sin on our souls such as impatience or an unkind word to our neighbour then we will enter the next life in purgatory and be cleansed of our small imperfection before we can enter heaven.
This is all biblical teaching.
If we had no time for God in this life then certainly we will not want to be with Him in the next and no beautiful eulogy by our friends in this world will place us safely in the arms of Jesus in the next.
However, every sinner in this life is called to be a saint in the next. And this is not impossible because God always provides, we need only accept the free gift of grace at any moment in our lives.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Hence, since there is so much sin in our world today, there must also be so much grace avail¬able for those who desire to gain sanctity.
The wisdom of the saints is that they recognized this and were able to tap into the rich treasures of the Church during difficult periods of human history.
God's love and mercy are always present, even in a corrupt age such as our own but we must be willing to accept the changes necessary in our lives in order to achieve sainthood.
So where are these fountains of grace and mercy that will allow a per¬son to become a saint in our day? The answer to that is easy.
The means of attaining holiness have always been in the Church.
It is within the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church that God is able to purify His people and make them holy, and this happens through the sacraments and the observance of all the teachings of the Church.
In our first reading today, we learn from St. John's vision that the souls of the saints have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. At first we might think: "since when does blood make something white?"
However, the blood of Jesus is pure and is able to wash us clean from sin. We receive this blood through the worthy reception of Holy Communion, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.
Saints know this, and this is why every saint had a great love for the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Furthermore, as in the Gospel today, Jesus gives us the Beatitudes so that we might be able to live lives that are in right relation to God.
The Beatitudes help us to realize that living the Christian life is not always easy. We will be persecuted and ridiculed, but we are assured that we will be called "Blessed" for our faithful observance of the commandments of God.
The world does not understand the power of holiness and a life lived in intimate union with God, Our Lady, the saints and the Church.
The saints followed the wisdom of the Cross which, ultimately, every single person that is put on this earth will have to carry at some point or another. The Cross will be offered to everyone.
Unfortunately, many people look at the saints and think: "I'll just never be able to live up to that standard, so why even try? I’m not a saint nor will I ever be. I’ll simply live my life as best I can and rely on God’s mercy in the end" .
This is a very sad position to take when it comes to God's call and desire for each per¬son in this world to achieve sanctity. If sanctity were impossible, God would certainly not ask, call and require it of us.
Yet, because God wants us to be holy, God will give us the strength to do it.
Becoming holy is cer¬tainly not easy, but nothing that was ever worth having was ever easy to attain.
We cannot achieve our own salvation even with all our good works. It needs more than that. It means we need to accept that we are powerless before almighty God and that we need Him to save us from ourselves.
We need to abandon ourselves to God. We need to surrender completely to Jesus – to try to live as He lived and to accept the cross as He accepted it.
Personal crosses are often very hard to carry, but once we understand that our suffering can be used to grow in holiness, they become precious treasures that lead us to freedom and happiness. Christians are certainly not sadistic people.
On the contrary, through the example of Jesus Christ and those faithful men and women that have followed His exam¬ple, the saints, Christians like you and me are given the wisdom to know that the cross points to a triumph that leads to ultimate freedom and hap¬piness.
Just like a mother in labor soon forgets her suffering on account of the joy of having given birth to a baby, so the Christian knows that the cross is not an end in itself, but a passage through which joy and happi¬ness are attained.
"Washing our robes in the blood of the lamb" means that we are will¬ing to live the beatitudes of Jesus and learn how to love sacrificially in a world that will reject, scorn and hold us in disdain.
The wisdom of the saints is the wisdom of the cross. The wisdom of the cross is a wisdom that knows sacrifi¬cial love conquers all things. Without sacrificial love no one will ever become holy: without sacrificial love no one will ever become happy and free.
The saints are those whose love is so radical that they are willing to surrender their lives to the wisdom of the cross at every moment. By the grace of God, you and I are not beyond this.
We, too, can become saints in the eyes of God if we surrender our lives completely to Him and have the courage to live a life of radical, life-giving, liberating love.
In all honesty, there is noth¬ing else worth investing all of one's life in. Sanctity and personal holi¬ness are the ultimate goals of human life.
That’s why we are here, born out of the Love of God, we are all called to become saints – for only saints will enter heaven.
In the Beatitudes Jesus teaches us that if we are faithful to His teachings – rejoice and be glad for your reward is great in heaven where we will be with God forever in the place which He has prepared for us from all eternity.
Deacon Bernard Ouellette