Solemnity of All Saints: What makes a Saint?
The 1st and 2nd readings are about purifying our hearts for God. This means sharing in the victory of the Lamb (Jesus) whom they persecuted and killed. Singleness of heart is required for this purification so that our intentions may always and only reflect our love for God, even if we are to face persecution for the sake of following Jesus.
The Gospel is about the constant peace and happiness of the Saints. It is also kind of a recipe – or at least a list of ingredients for Sainthood ...poor in spirit, merciful, gentle, pure etc.
But this misses a certain perspective. It’s when Jesus teaches us that Mary, the sister of Martha, chose the better part that we understand what makes a Saint is their interior life. It is not what the Saint does, but what’s in their heart. Jesus once said to Saint Faustina, “My daughter, love has brought Me here, and love keeps Me here. My daughter, if you knew what great merit and reward is earned by one act of pure love for Me, you would die of joy (576).
Soo beautiful. Following Jesus isn’t 1st about what we do, it is first about our interior life and particularly how much we love Him. No surprises then that the 1st commandment is to love God! This leads to a story. Many, many years ago in Africa there were two Christian communities. One thought that Jesus just offered them a good example to follow. The other community, led by Saint Augustine, understood very well that we can’t do anything good at all without the actual help of Jesus. You see, it’s not what we do. What we do is done with the help of Jesus who is Risen among us and fills us interiorly with the power of God’s love.
Everything about being a Saint depends on this hidden life with Jesus. Without this communion we are just pretending to be Christians. And here’s the punch line: the source (and summit) of this life of communion with Jesus is the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Did you know that the Holy Mass is the same sacrifice which Jesus offered upon the Cross for our salvation 2000 years ago? It is the same Sacrifice ...think about it, this means that the Mass is the mystery of God’s love being celebrated over and over again. Even in Baptism where Gods love is poured into our hearts, the source of this Sacrament is the Holy Sacrifice.
So, what is it to be a Saint? Yes, imitate Jesus’ life! But you will need to tap into the source (and summit) of that life which is the Mass. It is the Eucharist that teaches us to be one with the loving action of God – love that brings us to Mass, love that brings Jesus to Mass, and love that consumes our lives as we partake of the one cup and offer the Sacrifice as one Body. Above all Saints are people devoted to the celebration of the Eucharist.
The other side of the coin is that you can’t be a Saint unless you come to Mass and you are Catholic in name only if you do not fulfil your Sunday obligation. For me, I come not only on Sunday but day after day and not out of obligation, but out of love for Jesus.
Reflection: The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation (CCC 2181).