We’re living in some very interesting times. Violence and crime is up, integrity and ethics in the workplace and in politics seems to be down[..]eroding[..]disappearing. It’s every man and woman for themselves. The world seems to be cut-throat and at times ruthless. There’s no place for my religious beliefs, holding them or sharing them at work, among my family, among my friends. Even watching the news, we’re living in a selfish & self-centered world where COVID cases are going up & up & up and while I’m staying at home, others are partying, spreading the virus, people from Toronto and other places are coming here and bringing cases here with them. Depression and melancholy is up, a sense of sadness looms.
Friends, this all seems pretty dark and hopeless, this doesn’t seem like the homily we wanted to hear today, does it? But how many of us have had these thoughts from time to time? How many of us have had moments or periods of time feeling this way or thinking this way, especially lately? And then we come to Mass on Sunday and the priest highlights the doom and gloom we’re already experiencing So we’ll stop right there! This is the world’s truth or reality, but it’s only our truth or reality if we let it be. And friends, we cannot leave here today letting this be our reality. We just can’t!
We celebrate this weekend the Solemnity of All Saints, very real, very human women and men who are as much a part of our community as the person sitting next to us right now, and who made very notable and remarkable differences in the world as followers and Disciples of Christ. Saints have changed the world – they have brought salvation and Jesus Christ into the world.
But there’s no point in celebrating them if we do not desire to join them. If we see them as somehow different than us or we can’t see that what made them saints is possible for you and for me.
We must say it. “I want to be a saint”. We need to say it three times. I asked us to say it three times because this should become our mantra, I know it should become mine! I want to be a saint. Say it three times each day, every day: it will become an important part of our faith experience and we will never forget it. And if we want to be saints, Jesus our Lord and Mary His Mother will show us the way
I began my homily today highlighting darkness because we often lose sight of sainthood because we forget that we were made for greatness, we forget that we were gifted for mission and carry within us great giftedness to do God’s work, the work that saints do. We often think sainthood is unattainable, unreachable and we become fixated on that; that becomes a truth, a reality instead of what it should be if we’re going to change, it will be hard at first, but easier as it becomes part of our routine in prayer and action.
Too often we see the glass half empty in the examination of our own lives and become discouraged. How many people in our lives tell us to be careful and don’t set yourself up for failure? How many people tell us at school or maybe at work where we’re not doing well, where we are failing, where we aren’t meeting expectations or reaching the bar? How many of us are told we’re inadequate or unacceptable or not good enough, and we believe them rather than believing Almighty God who is telling us right now that we are amazing, wonderful, worth loving, absolutely great – as He is right now!
Why would we believe our critics over God? Because if we believed God, we’d want to be saints. So many of us meet people every day or often enough whom we let into our heads and who convince us that we are less than the great person who the Lord our God created us to be. If you’re ready to say everyday “I want to be a saint”, you have to be able to say “I am a gift to the world” and mean it. We have to be positive with a positive outlook and a positive sense of what Jesus can do through us in the world. Our readings speak magnificently of that this weekend. Our first reading from the Book of Revelation highlights the glory of the saints in heaven. That’s what we live for!
The Beatitudes which we hear in the Gospel are God’s commandments expressed in positive terms. They go far beyond what is required by the Ten Commandments and are a true and trusted recipe for holiness and most importantly for sainthood. Poverty of spirit is knowing our need for God; mourning is to embrace the sufferings of life and alleviating the sorrows of others; meekness is being open and receptive to the Will of God, being gentle and patient with others even when we experience insults or disappointments or sufferings.
Hungering for righteousness or justice is the longing to see everyone loved, everyone enjoying peace, happiness, justice, healed and forgiven and not wanting to rest until we see that. We give mercy as we are constantly aware and mindful of how much has been given us. The purity we desire of heart, is the sincerity we have that places God first and always, and sees everything else in relationship to God.
Peace is reached when enemies or those who we find difficult become friends and suffering for all of this offers us a certain joy and happiness knowing the One True God we do all this for. So you see, each one of these beatitudes, while not easy to follow are a recipe for sanctity, for sainthood.
We need saints in the Town Hall or on Council, in Parliament, driving trucks or buses, in our schools and universities, teaching and studying… wearing collars; saints who are normal, average people like we are – Jesus needs you to be a God-loving, Jesus following saint. Constantly praying for others, loving others, serving others, forgiving others and sharing the Joy of the Gospel. As we celebrate with all the saints in the halls of heaven and commemorate them today. Let us ask for their intercessions, their prayers and let us consider each day our call to join them and continue to work in this world to make it a beautiful and glorious place for all of, honouring the saints who did their part before us.