All Saint’s Sunday

November 5, 2013

On the Sunday following All Saints Day it is our tradition here to keep All Saints Sunday. All Saints Day is one of these significant days that often sort of spills over. So what is a saint, and really, why do we care? At the most simple, a saint is someone who has been made holy through the grace of God and virtuous living. They were (and are) people who lived into God’s love and mercy in a profound so they became mirrors who reflected God’s love in the world. They are friends who have traveled the path of Jesus and they can offer us guidance and comfort along the way. And they are examples to inspire us to live the Christian life to the fullest.

Here’s one thing that the saints are not. They are not some kind of monochromatic, boring image of saccharine piety. They remained fully themselves. Some of them were nice, some of them were grumpy. But they were absolutely themselves. In fact, as these individuals accepted God’s grace more and more themselves. They became the people that God knew they could be.

We have many images and symbols of saints here in the Church, and each one of them represents a life fully lived in God. And since each of their stories is unique, that’s why some of them became associated with certain situations or conditions. Matthew was a tax collector, so tax collectors and accountants realized they had a common experience. He became their patron. St. Jerome, who was so irritating that he got kicked out of several cities, holed himself up in a cave and translated the Bible from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, ironically, so that the people could read it. Many translators look to Jerome as a special friend and companion.

 

In 1050, a monk named Bernard of Menthon founded a hospice high up along a mountain pass in the southern Alps. The hospice cared for people caught in the spring avalanches. The monks who lived in the hospice went into the snow accompanied by their dogs, St. Bernards. So St. Bernard is the special friend and patron of skiers and mountaineers.

The one thing they had in common was a powerful devotion to God. And they all, in their own ways, modeled these words that we just heard from St. Luke: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. This is what a saint does.

I like picking these amazing and somewhat off the wall stories because they are a lot like our stories, only a somehow bigger. These people were really like us. And this really is what we are supposed to do with our lives. We are supposed to be saints; that’s what God wants us to be. So the question for today is this: What will our stories be?

And today, a new chapter is opening up in the story of the life of one of God’s children. In his baptism, Simon is taking on this job: to become a saint in the Church. And he will have all of us and all of the saints helping him along the way. And they are rejoicing today.

There are two messages for us to keep in mind when we come to All Saints Day. The first is that we are called to be truly holy people of God, and we have examples and inspiration in those saints who have gone on before us. And the second is that we are not alone in our journeys as Christians. There are others who have dealt with the same kinds of situations that we deal with every day, and they are here to help us. This is some powerful good news, and this is why this day has always been so important to the Church. It is a time when we give thanks for the spiritual struggle that so many have finished, and it is an inspiration for us to find our own stories in the love of God.

– Michael Tuck+

Previous post:

Next post: