A Call to Holiness! All Saints Day
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB – Sermon And Christian Act In The Word
Theme: A Call to Holiness! The quality path to Sainthood is Righteousness! You and I, we are called to be holy!
Point of Reflection: Do you know that you are a saint? Am I a saint? Why others have been canonised as saints? Then, why not you and I! Every Christian is called to holiness and it is by realising the grace that God bestowed in us that we actualise our holiness by being righteous, and by being righteous, then you become a saint.
Nevertheless, the path to holiness begins with an acknowledgement that I am a sinner not saying you are a sinner; we are sinners, and a longing for God’s mercy through repentance and confession is the right path to sainthood. Hence, the Scriptural readings of today reveal the divine plan that God has for every human being, thus, sharing in His holiness: a call to holiness.
First Reading: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Second Reading: First John 3:1-3
Gospel: Matthew 5:1-12
Sermon (Reflection): Today we remember the glorious deeds and the lives of those saints, our own holy predecessors, all those who have given themselves and their whole lives in the service of God, who lived worthily of God, and also we pray for ourselves to be the living saints. The mother Church celebrates All Saints Day on 1st November and other parts of the World celebrates the Sunday of the week the All Saints Day fall. We might ask ourselves, is it true there is life after death? Are there saints in Heaven? The first Scriptural reading of today gives us a glimpse of the glorious vision of life in Heaven.
In the first reading, we encounter the words from the Book of Revelation of St John the Apostle which detailed his glorious vision of Heaven as he received it during his exile at the island of Patmos. St John saw a great number of the descendants of Israel, as well as innumerable people of every nations and races, all gathered and brought together in the presence of God. They were all those whom according to the Angel that guided St John, had lived their lives with faith in God, and there were still many among them who had been persecuted for the Lord.
What St John had seen in his vision was proof that there is life and existence beyond death, and the saints represent all those whom the Lord had deemed to be worthy to join Him in the glorious kingdom He had prepared for them in Heaven, where they would be all His people and He would be their God forevermore.
Sin and death would no longer come between Him and them, and those saints, some suffering persecution before they gained the promised eternal glory, all have been faithful to God to the very end.
Hence, the first reading from the book of revelation has established to us the existence of another life after death, which is placed in Heaven, and the glorious Vision of St John testifies this aspect.
In the second Scriptural reading of today, we hear from St John the Apostle in his Epistle, the same St John who had seen the heavenly vision at Patmos. Whether St John wrote this Epistle before or after his exile at Patmos and the vision, he knew, after having journeyed with the Lord and receiving the truth through the Holy Spirit and Wisdom of God, that all of us are truly beloved children of God, and as God’s own children, therefore, we are called to be more holy like our heavenly Father in all things.
What does that mean, brothers and sisters in Christ? It means that since God is our Creator and our Father, and as He considered us all His own children, then naturally all of us as His children must be like Him in all things, just as children usually follow after the example of their parents; hence, as Christians, we need to walk in the path of righteousness and justice, to be good just as our Lord and God, our heavenly Father is all good and perfect. By doing so, we become saints, thus, our Christian calling to be holy. This means you and I are saints in making.
St Augustine once said, “God is glorified in his saints, and that when he crowns their merits and rewards them, then God is crowning the gift of grace which he has put in their hearts”.
This gift is none other than the Holy Spirit, the living presence of God in our lives. This is the calling to holiness, by the virtue of our baptism; we are all called to be holy as we received the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Counsellor, the One promised by Christ and given to us to lead us on the way of Truth. Every child, as we have seen, needs a teacher. But as we know, a child who doesn’t want to learn or heed the warning of his parent, cannot be forced to learn. This is why God doesn’t command or oblige us, but he invites us with his promises of happiness, blessedness, thus, the Beatitudes of today’s Gospel:
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
Our living legacy as saints of today is stated in the Gospel passage of today which is the Sermon on the Mount “the Beatitudes”. The sermon by Jesus Christ has detailed almost eight ways in which we as Christians can be truly blessed living our lives with faith, and when the Lord Jesus praised all those who have lived their lives virtuously according to the Eight Beatitudes, in fact He was exhorting and telling all of us to do the same with our lives.
To be poor in spirit does not mean for us to be physically and materially poor, but rather, it refers to an attitude that we must have in life, to be humble in our disposition and way of life, to be humble and meek in seeking God’s love and fulfilment, to be poor and truly in need of help and guidance from God. We ought not be proud and haughty, ambitious and selfish in our way of living and interaction with each other. Instead, we should always seek the Lord and His love and providence at all times. This is what is meant by being poor in spirit.
Then as we seek justice and righteousness in life, just as we all seek to be merciful in our actions and deeds, in our words and interactions with one another, and in being pure in our hearts, in our conviction and path, we are all called to be exemplary in how we live and act towards our fellow brothers and sisters, our neighbours and those whom we encounter in life. We should strive to be good and righteous and caring towards those who need our love, care and attention.
And then as the Lord also mentioned, we should all seek to make peace and bring harmony in our communities, and wherever we are. We must also be prepared to be persecuted, rejected and oppressed, challenged and our lives made difficult by those who still refused to listen to the Lord and believe in Him. That is because our Christian faith and way of life are often incompatible to the ways and the norms that this world is accustomed to, and many will come to oppose us because they disagree with our faith and way of life.
Christian Act in Word of God “I am a Saint in Making”
There is one fact that we need to understand as human beings, Saints were not super-humans that they never had problems in life, NO! They all had their share of troubles and downfalls, moments when they faltered and failed in faith. Some of the saints were even once great sinners and enemies of the Lord, such as St Paul the Apostle, once a young zealous Pharisee who was number one enemy of the Lord and His Church, persecuting many Christians throughout Judea and Jerusalem before he was called by God and converted to the true faith. Some others like St Augustine of Hippo, St Ignatius of Loyola and many others led sinful and worldly lives in their younger days.
My brother and sister, why are you late in becoming a saint? There is only one requirement which is to change your sinful ways and follow the right path of holiness which is righteousness.
What is needed from us the Christians of today is sanctity. By looking at the examples of the saints, we are all challenged to follow the Lord and to change our lives, much like how the Lord called Levi, the tax collector, who later on became a great Apostle and Evangelist, St Matthew, as well as St Mary Magdalene, who according to some traditions, was a prostitute. But because they changed and followed the path to holiness, today, they are recognised and venerated as Saints! Why not you and I?
My brothers and sisters, God called us all to be holy, to be His beloved children and therefore, as holy as we should be. All of us have the potential in us to be holy and to end up like the saints, who are now enjoying the glorious inheritance promised to all, as their efforts and deeds were deemed worthy by God and His Church.
God wants us all to realise that each and every one of us have the capability and the opportunity to be like the saints, if only we follow what our holy predecessors had done, as described in the Beatitudes.
A call to holiness! Let us all, therefore, reform ourselves and change our way of life so that from now on we will live for the greater glory of God and to shine with the brilliance of God’s light and truth.
Saints are indeed like the beautiful stained glass in our churches, not only because they are often depicted on them, their lives and ministry, but the fact that they do not produce light on their own, but are beautiful because of the light that shines through them. May all the saints both living and dead pray for us to live a righteous life here on Earth.
Action: I will change my sinful ways and follow the right path of holiness by being righteous.
Prayer: Almighty God, You called all of us to share in your holiness, and You are always giving us grace each and every moment for us to be holy. May you endow in us the spirit of righteousness and to follow the path of holiness. O Holy Saints of God, holy men and women, our blessed brothers and sisters, the Church Triumphant in God, pray for us sinners. May we be true disciples of holiness and live a life of integrity. Make us great saints that live a holy life. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
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