The Sunday after Pentecost and the time of the Pentikostario has run its course. On the first Sunday after the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Church focuses on a very large group of people: the choir of the saints. We celebrate all the saints from all the ages: from the first martyr, Saint Stephen to the most recent ones canonized in the 21st century. The Church wishes to honor all those people who believed in Christ and gave their life for him: the first fruits of the Church. All of those people believed in the crucified and risen Christ. Their whole life was interwoven and in harmony with Christ. They made an effort to apply Christian teaching in their life. They tried to fight against their passions and to adorn their soul with virtues and gifts.
The saints had great faith and managed to do many things in their life in the name of the Holy Trinity. This is why, as the Epistle reading for the day tells us (Heb. 11, 33-37), many of them ended their lives as martyrs.
The Apostle of the Gentiles goes on to address each one of us when he says: ‘Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the originator and perfector of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God’. In other words, since we have all around us such a cloud of innumerable saints who witnessed and were martyred for their faith, let us cast off every weight of the depressing cares of life and, in particular, sin, which surrounds us on all sides in a way that’s attractive and easy for us. Let us run the race before us with patience and persistence. And find the courage and strength for this. Let’s keep our eyes fixed in faith on Christ, the author and founder of our faith, who, by his grace, guides us on the path of perfection. Instead of the bliss which was always before him as God, and instead of the joy he was entitled to as a sinless human person who was ever-pleasing to the Father, Christ preferred and suffered death on the cross, scorning the shame and ridicule this involved, for our sake. This is why he now sits at God’s right hand.
So, what’s our mission? What’s the task we’re called upon to complete by the end of our life? To resemble the saints and to become saints ourselves, as Scripture says: ‘Become holy as I am holy’ (Lev. 20, 7, 26; 1 Peter 1, 16).
But the question we should ask ourselves is: ‘Do we want to become saints? Do we want to experience all those difficulties the saints went through, so that God can make us saints, too?’.
The answer’s no. We’re not disposed, I least of all, to abandon our comfortable and artificial life in order to strive. Do you know what we want? To become saints with our life the way it is, to enter the choir of the saints with all our conveniences at hand.
Saint Paul advises us to keep our gaze fixed on Christ in faith. To entrust our life to Christ. To open our heart so that the Christ can dwell in it. To trust him and to pray that his will be done. All the saints had the opportunity to make their dream come true. They could have become great figures in society but chose to humble their will to that of Christ and to follow a rough, uphill path that leads to the resurrection and eternal life.
Let’s seize today’s feast of All Saints as an opportunity to follow their example. All along our uphill journey we’ll have Christ and all his saints there to help us and to share our cross.