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Sanctity or Holiness Is within Everyone's Reach

Blessed are the poor, mourners, meek, hungry, merciful, clean, peacemakers, persecuted... Matthew 5

All Saints Solemnity   Msgr. Joseph K. Ntuwa  November 1, 2020

Rev. 7:2-4. 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12a

From time to time, we remember saints from the Bible, such as John the Baptist, the evangelists who wrote the gospels, the apostles, and various early disciples. Now and then, we also remember saints from the history of the church- those who founded religious orders (e.g. St Francis of Assisi, St Ignatius of Loyola) , those who experienced radical conversions ( e.g. St Augustine of Hippo), and those who were persecuted and killed. All of these saints lived lives worth remembering.   

Sainthood would seem to be a very exclusive club, like the Hall of Fame or a group of Lifetime Achievement winners, but the communion of saints is actually much larger than just the saints formally recognized by the Catholic Church. John’s vision in the book of Revelation of an uncountable multitude gives a good picture of those in the presence of the Lord for eternity. Every one of us can aspire to this outcome.

The Solemnity of All Saints which is also our Parish feast is a day when the entire Church rejoices for the victory of the countless multitude of holy men and women, most of whom are unknown to us, from all walks of life, of any age, from all nations, who have followed and loved God here on earth in their ordinary life till the end and are now enjoying the eternal happiness in heaven. This is the day when the Church joyfully reminds us that all of us are called to holiness. Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev 19:2; Mt 5:48). We are reminded that sanctity or holiness is within everyone’s reach.

Probably most of us do not really think about being saints ourselves. We think of saints as people who lived long ago and led lives very different from our own. But, in reality, the saints are all in reality ordinary people like us, who followed a call to holiness. They are holy men and women;

  • who had struggles, temptations, difficulties, problems, (perhaps similar to what we have) in this life and they had fought as often as necessary and conquered for love of Christ;
  •  ordinary people who had to struggle against their own disordered passions and tendencies; who had fallen so many times but stood up, counting on God’s mercy;
  • who had committed errors, sins of pride, laziness, lust…even grave sins perhaps…but they repented, sought God’s forgiveness in the Sacrament of confession., and fought daily against themselves without discouragement, and with humility and commitment, beginning over and over again as long as it took for love of God;
  • who knew how to love because they knew how to forget themselves and sacrifice themselves for love of Christ and of the people around them;
  • who, like us, were called by God to be holy, without considering themselves perfect and holy but rather sinners in need of God’s mercy;
  • were people who sought, found and loved God above anything else in the midst of their ordinary daily activities, carrying out the little things with great love for God.

The world we live in today is wrought with temptations to cling to this earth or be jaded by its corruption and ignore the invitation of love. But Jesus shows us another way on this Solemnity. In the Gospel, we hear our Lord’s discourse on the mountain when he teaches the Beatitudes. The word ‘beatitude’ means ‘supreme blessedness or happiness’.  By giving us the Beatitudes, Jesus is pointing the way to the happiness we seek and the life of heaven the saints enjoy. Notice that Jesus does not say, “blessed are those who simply resist temptation” as important as it is to do so. The blessed of whom Jesus speaks live as his disciples on earth. They are called to have within them the person of Christ so that in their very being they witness to God’s love. They are not only tolerant of those who are in need, they show mercy. They not only avoid conflict, they make peace. 

Dear friends, when the world is darkened by sin, we are called to be a light. When the culture offers worldly pleasures to take possession of us, we are called to follow the King of Kings. Each of the beatitudes might call to mind a certain saint who exemplified an aspect of holiness. But each beatitude can also call us to the path of holiness that the saints themselves walked. Inspired by the saints, today can be a day to pick a beatitude and live it. Which beatitude will bring you a little closer to sainthood today? ###

 

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