Tuesday, 19 August 2014

All Saints Day

What is a saint? Some people think that a saint is a person who has super powers, with abilities above and beyond mere mortals. Some people think that a saint is an extremely holy or pious person, always praying and preaching the Gospel. Some people think that a saint never makes mistakes or rarely sins. Others think that a saint is someone who has done heroic deeds or lived and died in a heroic way. But are saints made up of only certain qualities, attributes, capabilities or strengths? Are there other factors which could be considered in the equation?

Today's Gospel tells us that one can be happy despite all sorts of difficulties, problems, or persecution we may face. It may seem extremely difficult or impossible for most of us mere mortals to be happy in such circumstances, but this is where our happiness differs from what the world thinks of as happiness. According to worldly view, happiness is for oneself, or perhaps for one's family, loved ones and friends. But from a Christian view, our happiness is rooted in the fact that, God unconditionally loves all of us and that nothing – sickness, failure, emotional distress, oppression, war or even death – can take that love away. So, one aspect of saintliness is to be humbly aware of God's love for us, and His love is not meant only for ourselves, but to be diligently, enthusiastically and warmly shared with all.

St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we are beloved children of God, and that is our true identity, our source of joy and strength. The second reading also tells us that we have hope of being with God and seeing Him as He really is, and so we must purify ourselves and must try to be as pure as Christ. So, another aspect for saintliness is to be joyful and hopeful, even in the midst of trials and sufferings, like the martyrs whose robes were washed clean by the blood of persecution, as the first reading tells us. This joy and hope is not meant to kept within ourselves, but for all to witness, so that glory is given to God.

If we look at some of the aspects of saintliness mentioned, we can begin to realise that it is not difficult or impossible to be a saint. What is important is we learn to grow in humility and dependence in God's love, care and providence, and learn to love others just as God love us unconditionally. We cannot grow in holiness and closer to God overnight. It takes time, patience, lots of effort, and plenty of humility and cheerfulness. Ultimately, we depend on God's grace, strength and loving power to transform us, for His greater glory.

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