4th Last Sunday after Pentecost 4.11.18 All Saints
How does one become a saint? By the mercy of God obtained through the saving death of Our Lord.
He loved us first. If we manage to love Him in return it is because we have responded to His grace.
This the saints have done. Sinners like us, they have asked for and received the mercy of God; and they have been purified of all trace of sin
It sounds so easy - why is not everyone a saint? Not everyone recognizes their sin or their need for correcting their lives.
In each person a battle is being fought for correct spiritual sight. If we can see that life lived in Christ is better than life in the world alone, then we are a long way towards becoming a saint.
On All Saints Day we acknowledge the ‘ordinary’ saints, people like our own parents or family or parishioners.
We hope that all the people we love and pray for either have reached, or will reach Heaven.
What they lacked in merit may the mercy of God supply.
Sainthood can be achieved by indirect means. It is better of course to grasp the nettle, to pitch in fully and be a zealous disciple of the Lord. But if we are hesitant, fearful, habitual sinners – it is still possible to be a saint, by sincere sorrow for what is lacking. We can at least achieve that much; to be sorry for all that we should have done or should have been, but did not achieve.
His mercy purifies us so that we are actually changed by the experience. We become perfect by receiving the cleansing grace of Christ (washed in His Blood). We are then able to put into practice the charity that comes from God.
If we are not perfected in this life, it will happen in Purgatory. No one can enter Heaven unless cleansed of every sort of blemish. This means that everyone in Heaven is perfect (each to his respective capacity).
It is not as though God simply overlooks our faults and lets us into Heaven anyway; He removes the faults – either before or after death. As long as we can at least be sorry for our sins and willing to make amends.
But we can at least reduce the sin we commit and transform vices to virtues. We don't just sit back and say, Well, I am a sinner so here goes. We make every possible effort to cooperate with the mercy of God and let Him transform us.
It is better of course to be purified of sin before we die rather than after. This, because it is easier to do while still alive; and more importantly because it gives greater honour to God.
Why waste another day before we resolve to belong to Him entirely?
We know what it is to regret lost opportunity. We do not want to face a great sadness at the end of our lives. Rather we strive to be like the good and faithful servants who were found at their work when the Master returned (Mt 24,46).
His mercy forgives, primarily, but has other good effects too: such as motivating us to good; to being merciful ourselves; to evangelising, helping others to see the way forward.
We hope to be part of the ‘All’ in All Saints. It is not so hard to reach Heaven if we observe the basic requirements. But we will not give any room to complacency or idling. Let us do good while we have the chance (Ga 6,10).