Reflection for 31st Sunday of Ordinary Time
This year, the celebration of All Saints Day falls on a Sunday. Why does the Catholic Church celebrate All Saints Day? Why is it important for each one of us? These are questions that perhaps we have asked ourselves or have been asked by others.
The word “saint” comes from the Latin, sanctus, meaning “holy”. Saints are intercessors before God. Saints are heroic in their efforts to witness to the kingdom of God. They are outstanding in holiness. Saints often lived with sufferings, failures and misfortunes. They were not people of wealth, fame or the admired and more often, just the opposite. Their success was not in their worldly accomplishments, but in their fidelity to God.
We know that the church has a rigorous process for declaring someone a saint. There are various steps: servant of God, venerable, beatified and finally canonized. The Catholic Church is very careful when declaring someone a saint. We know there are many saints, whose names are only known to God. They are part of the “cloud of witnesses” described in the letter to the Hebrews.
Each one of us has the same goal…that is to enjoy personal and eternal union with the triune God. Our entire life should be oriented towards that goal. How do we get there? Follow the saints – live the Beatitudes that Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount. The Beatitudes take us beyond the Ten Commandments. The Beatitudes answer the question: What must I do to become a better Christian? Jesus begins with: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. The poor in spirit put God first at all times, acknowledging their dependence on God. Blessed are the single-hearted for they shall see God. The single-hearted or in some translations, the clean of heart are those who serve God, not for their own glory, but for the glory of God.
How else can we imitate the saints? Avoid sin – strengthen our resistance to yield to temptation by frequent Confession. Penance – not a popular modern day idea…practice generosity and self-denial. Suffering – bear it patiently, untied with the sufferings of Christ, for others and the souls in purgatory. Grace – ask for it constantly…given freely by God at the hands of Mary, our Mother. Service – use our time, resources and skills to help others. Prayer – take time to pray and grow in one’s relationship with Jesus Christ!
May God bless us all always!