The Sunday Sermon: All Saints’ Sunday 2014
+ In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
This morning we are keeping the feast of All Saints’. In practical terms, it’s a catch all feast: a way to honor and commemorate all the Saints who are known but also all those whom we don’t know – the Saints who are known to God alone.
But, what is a Saint?
In order to answer that question, I need to use the word “saint” in two ways: first, with a lower case “s”, and Secondly, with an upper case “S”.
Each and every one of us is called to be saints, and not only are we called to be Saints, we are, in fact, saints.
The difference, of course, is in the capital lettering of the word.
Each of us, even now, are called “saints” with a lower case “s”. We are the saints of God, called apart from the world into God’s Kingdom. And in that Kingdom, we are called to be in a relationship with God that is continually growing closer and closer to him. In Church Words, that process of growing closer and closer to God over the course of our lifetime is called Sanctification. That process of sanctification is the process by which, through the intentional living out of the Christian Faith once delivered to us, we become poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hungry for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, and peace makers.
All of us on the journey of Faith, are by the Love which God has for us, Children of God – And so we are.
But in the course of the history of the Church, we saints have recognized that some have been given particular graces, have run with endurance the race that was set before them so beautifully in the love of God, have led lives so characterized by Holiness, that we want to remember them – and to follow their good examples, so that with them we may be partakers of God’s heavenly Kingdom.
These are the Saints with the Upper-Case “S”.
And almost every day through out the year, the Church’s calendar gives us an opportunity to celebrate their faith and love for God.
And the reason that we do it – the reason we have Saint Matthew’s Day, and Saint Bartholomew’s Day, and the Feast of Saint Michael the Archangel – is not because of the saints themselves. It’s really not about them at all.
And if you ever talk to a Saint, they, too, would tell you that its not about them.
WE celebrate the Saints, the capital “S” ones, today and almost every day of the year, because they point us not to themselves, or to the world with all its trappings, but to our Lord.
That’s really what the Commemoration of Saints is all about: Flesh and Blood human beings just like you and me, who have faced the same world with its struggles and its trappings and whose lives point us and direct us to the savior.
That’s what a Saint does: they point us to our Lord. We need not look any further than this icon of Our Lady of Walsingham to find the example. And in this and in almost all other images of the Blessed Virgin, we find her, with the Christ Child. And with her eyes and with her hands, so points us to the Lord.
But Saints point us to the Lord in more than just pictures.
The point us to our lord by giving us practical ways of living life. And that’s why I encourage you all to make one of our weekday services a part of your life. It’s during those weekdays that we get to encounter the Saints: The martyrs, confessors, doctors of the Church, Consecrated Religious, whose biographies shine the light of Christ on the pathway of the journey of Faith.
Personally, I find the lives of the saints tremendously encouraging. Frankly, we often think that the saints lived perfect lives from birth to death. But when you get into their biographies, you get to learn how really salty these people were. We need not even look outside the New Testament, to someone like Saint Paul, whose first encounters with Christians was as a persecutor, who was present at the deaths of Saints like Saint Stephan the Deacon and Proto-martyr.
But Christian history is littered with stories of people, who like, Paul, weren’t perfect their whole lives – who indeed, grew into Sainthood. And as I read those lives and see the light of Christ shining through them, I realize that I, too, am called to allow Christ shine through my life.
That’s what today’s feast is all about. It’s about those Great Heroes of the Faith. And it’s about us giving thanks to God for giving us their wonderful, beautiful, and inspiring example to follow, so that we too may join them in the wonderful Kingdom, whose ruler is God – who has promised to feed and protect us, and to take away all our sorrows, even to wipe away the tears from our face.
Tomorrow evening, though, we will keep the Feast of All Souls. That feast is about all the rest of the saints. Our Families and our loved ones, called by God to be holy, set apart for his purpose. I invite you to join us here in this place tomorrow evening at 7 p.m. to spend time giving thanks to God for all those loved ones of ours and to once again offer them to the love of God through our prayers and intercessions.
And so on this day, may we turn our hearts to God in joyful praise and thanksgiving for the lives of his Holy Ones – His Saints, who inspire us to take up our cross and follow him on that path that leads to eternal life.
In the name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.