Becoming a Saint

Today, on the first Sunday after Pentecost and the empowering of the Holy Spirit upon the Church, we celebrate All Saints Sunday as we honor all the faithful people throughout history who have dedicated their lives to following Jesus Christ and living a life in union with our Triune God.

Look around at the walls of our beautiful church and take note of all the saints, the holy ones. We see men and women, young and old, rich and poor, from all walks of life. Yes, there are bishops, priests, monks and nuns as well as martyrs who suffered and died for Christ but there are also simple, everyday people – some illiterate, others of little worldly influence or power, people that society may think of little yet who in the eyes of God stand in the company of the righteous.

As we honor and celebrate all the saints known and unknown throughout history, we must pause and reflect on the fact that sainthood is not reserved for only a few select people! Sainthood should be the normal growth of every Christian’s life in our journey into union with the Holy Trinity.

The Good News is that God not only expects us to become living saints because He has created us in His image and likeness and given us divine potential, but He offers us His Holy Spirit to inspire, enlighten, and empower us on this path of holiness! As we reflect on this calling, however, remember that saints are not perfect people but are sinners who live in constant repentance, continually turning back toward God, they are sinners who accept the mercy of God in humility and who continually open their hearts to the Holy Spirit so that they can be illumined by His grace. In other words, saints not only walk with Jesus Christ daily, but they choose to have Christ live in them, they consciously decide to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them at every moment of their lives!

In today’s Epistle and Gospel readings, we received some concrete advice on how we can walk this path of the saints. Saint Paul reminds us that “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

Let’s reflect on these words for a moment:

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”

  • - We remember that we walk in the company of the saints; they surround us in our lives; together with them we make up the Church of Christ; and they are praying for us, acting as our cheerleaders to imitate them as they imitated Christ. The saints are encouraging us to follow the path of holiness they have already walked

“let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely”

  • - Can we honestly look at our lives and put aside the burdens and weight of our past mistakes and sins? We have to shed off the past to move forward toward God!
  • - Can we also make an honest confession and name the present habits and sins that cling so closely onto us and hand them over to Christ, asking for Him to cleanse us and heal us, to give us the strength to find a new life in Him, free from our sinful ways and habits?

“let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us”

  • - Our journey with Christ is a lifelong marathon. Sainthood does not come typically in a moment but is a lifelong journey of constantly falling and getting back up, of staying vigilant and persevering throughout the struggles of life.
  • - We don’t give up the ascetic struggle of repentance no matter what happens in life
  • - We accept whatever life brings us as our own journey towards God and we run it with perseverance. Thus, we don’t need to compare our journey with anyone else’s; we have our own unique path toward the heavenly kingdom.

“looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

  • - If we want to know the path that leads to sainthood, we look no further than at Jesus Christ, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. He is the way!
  • - If we want to know the path, we learn and follow the teachings of Christ and develop a worldview that has been shaped by His divine wisdom
  • - Our call is to become perfect, yet only in Christ can we discover this journey toward perfection, perfect divine love
  • - Thus, let us keep our eyes on Jesus the pioneer and perfector of our faith

Along with Saint Paul’s words from the Epistle reading today, we also have our Lord’s warning to help us on our path of sainthood. Jesus said in today’s Gospel:

"Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

“Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven;

  • - We must strive to live in constant communion with God and be so filled with His Spirit that we are always prepared to give Him the praise, live for Christ and offer a witness to Jesus in every circumstance of life.
  • - He is our life and being and therefore we are ready to proclaim to the world our love for and faith in Him

“Whoever denies me before others, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven.”

  • - We must be on guard not to deny Christ nor to turn away from Him whether through our actions, our words, or even our thoughts
  • - Oftentimes our denial of Christ comes because we become so preoccupied with the events of life we forget Him. It may not be a conscious denial of Christ but a simple forgetfulness. In contrast to this, we need to develop our heart and mind to be thinking of God constantly.
  • - We also deny Christ sometimes out of our laziness or our apathetic spirit. Spiritual laziness is a grave danger in our walk with Jesus.
  • - Sometimes we deny Christ out of our egocentric spirit, our pride and willful arrogance. Only as we cultivate the spirit of humility can we stay faithful on the path toward holiness.

He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

  • - The two greatest commandments are to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves. This love for God comes before all else, even before our family.
  • - Loving God doesn’t imply we don’t love our family but it does teach us that God is of first importance in our lives. Only by allowing God’s divine love to overwhelm us will we learn to love others in a more beautiful way.

He who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

  • - The path of sainthood is the path of sacrificial love. It is the path of crucifying our egocentric passions and putting love before all else.
  • - Taking up His cross means dying to this world and discovering new life in God Himself

Today on All Saints Sunday, we remember that sainthood is not reserved for only a few select people! Sainthood should be the normal growth of every Christian’s life in our journey into union with the Holy Trinity. Yet it is a very challenging journey. Let us reflect on the words we heard from Holy Scripture that help us better understand how to walk down this journey of holiness.

“Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

"Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me."

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