Kuwait City – November 1, 2013
Homily of the Apostolic Nuncio, His Grace Archbishop Petar Rajič
for the Solemnity of All Saints
Rev 7:2-4.9-14; 1Jn 3:1-3; Mt 5:1-12
Human beings, Believers, Witnesses
Human beings. When we think of saints, our thoughts often turn to heaven, to the heights of the sky, towards those people who have passed from this world and have reached the glory of God. The saints may seem so different from us for the very fact that they lived holy lives and we are still on earth struggling with our own sinfulness. Some may mistakenly consider the saints as superior human beings who cannot be followed since they are so unlike us. Yet even though the saints have already reached the Kingdom of God, we must not forget that they were first of all human beings just like you and I, men and women made of flesh and blood, who had to eat, drink, sleep and go to the bathroom too. Our humanity is the first thing that we share with the saints in heaven. None of these men and women were born as saints, except for the Virgin Mary, who was exceptionally preserved of all stain of Original sin, therefore the first amongst all the saints. All the other saints started their lives the same way we did and had to progressively grow not only physically, but also mature intellectually and come to a greater knowledge of God.
Believers. One may ask how did they become saints? The answer is quite simple. They believed in the Lord’s message of salvation and fulfilled it faithfully in their lives. All the saints in heaven are pardoned sinners. They are people who were very aware of their sinfulness yet at the same time believed in the forgiveness received through Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary and his resurrection from the dead. God is constantly calling sinners to new life. He offers his pardon and forgiveness to all. The Lord wants the ignorant and the sinners of this world to become his witnesses and his saints. The saints are therefore not far from our life experience. Indeed, they lived in similar circumstances, had the same hardships, suffered things even more difficult and their lives were always filled with problems. However, they remained firm in their belief to the end of their lives and thereby provided a great example of faith and trust in God, which we call witnessing.
Witnesses. The saints are God’s witnesses, true examples of what God is capable of achieving in us if we give up our selfish desires and allow ourselves to be guided by the Lord. They show us the power of the Holy Spirit, hidden from the eyes of those that live without faith, yet who provides the poor in spirit with the blessedness of the Kingdom of God.
A young man once asked Father Thomas Merton what is needed to become a saint? Merton responded that all you need is to desire it with all your heart! There is a truth here. If we sincerely want to do the will of God in our lives, then we can not help but listen to his word, follow the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and “leave everything” that is, risk everything, to receive the graces necessary to do his will in our lives.
Unfortunately, even many believers today do not want to become saints. The faithful are afraid or think it is beyond their capacity. Some people do not want to become holy because in a number of circumstances they might end up being mocked by their peers. Others do not seek sanctity because they don’t believe that it is possible and thereby commit a sin against faith in the omnipotence of God. Still others may fear the difficulties and sufferings that come to those that choose to follow the Lord Jesus. There exists a so-called “blissful laziness” among those who should know better the challenge of the Lord, that is, the call addressed to everyone, especially to all consecrated people: Be holy, for I am holy! (Lev 11:44). They therefore prefer a middle road, in which they don’t have to commit themselves too much, avoiding the difficulties of life, and remain mediocre at best and then they wonder why they are so unhappy!
The true witnesses of the Lord, his real saints are those that are not concerned about what other people say, but rather with their own sincerity before God. They do not avoid the sufferings of life, but accept them with hope, trusting in God, thereby participating in the sufferings of Christ for the good of the Church. They are the ones who take seriously God’s invitation to become holy as He is holy, always recognizing that they are unworthy and that only God can grant the grace of a holy life. In this way it is God who becomes our holiness, because those who we call saints are in reality an image of the glory of God.
A certain type of envy can exist on our part towards those who have reached the goal of sanctity. The saints attract our attention because it is this that we would like to achieve in our lives as well. We too, should have a sincere desire to become like the saints and follow their example. To live in the presence of God, to be close to God and become one of his family members, this in brief is the definition of sanctity.
The lives of the saints are proof that holiness indeed can be achieved and that it is not impossible to become a saint if we truly want to. God is capable, today as in the past, of changing and transforming blasphemers into poets, prostitutes into angels, drunkards into intellectuals, lazy persons into hard workers, thieves and swindlers into generous benefactors, selfish individuals into altruists, terrorists into humanitarians, sinners into saints!