by Fr Peterson Muriithi
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THEME: OUR CALL TO HOLINESS
When we hear about all saints day, what comes in to our minds? Normally we think of the people who lived holy lives during their earthly life and after their death, they were beatified and canonised. We venerate the saints, ask for their intercession and we keep wondering how they managed to live holy lives in this sinful world. What we need to remember is that majority of the saints we venerate today and ask for their intercession, were born innocent like any other child including you and me, however their inclination to the original sin, human weakness and the influence that they got either from their immediate family members, friends or society in general started to eat away their innocence and entered in to sin of any kind as we all know from our catechism the definition of sin. “Sin is an offence against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbour caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods…”
As the saints grew in the knowledge of God, they embraced the Gospel and accepted the invitation of God to share in His holiness and decided to start the most challenging journey to holiness, a path that made some or all of them look stupid, mad and uncivilised. They persevered pain of rejection, physical and emotional pain but finally they emerged victorious as St Paul in his letter to Timothy proudly tells us. “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
For those who have had an opportunity to read the life of saints, we are aware of their struggles towards holiness, it wasn’t automatic, some renounced material things, some lived in solitude, others lived their whole life taking care of their brothers and sisters in need and many other works of charity. It was a constant fight against the forces of the evil one all along but through the gift of the Holy Spirit given to them, they finally attained holiness.
We are all called to share in the holiness of our Lord Jesus Christ; we are all capable of attaining sainthood like our ancestors in faith but not without suffering. If we look at the first reading for instance; the vision of John clearly indicates that we are all candidates to holiness but unfortunately our sinful nature has stained our white robes that we all received during baptism, our sinful nature has extinguished the candle that we received in baptism and our innocence have been replaced with guilt of turning ourselves into slaves of sin. However, God in His immense mercy and love has constantly given us opportunities to wash our robes again in the blood of the lamb though the sacrament of reconciliation and works of mercy, hence continue with our journey to holiness.
It is through self-giving, prayer, penance, perseverance, sacrifice and embracing other virtues that have been instilled in our hearts that we can actually focus on the heavenly things and the life to come. We must be aware of what is happening in the world around us, choose what is good and reject what is evil, promote justice and trample over oppression. This is the path to holiness; this is entering by the narrow gate.
The Gospel is inviting us to focus on what is to come, God’s promise of eternal life at the end of our earthly struggles which we talked about above. In all this we must have hope, hope doesn’t disappoint, hope keeps us going, hope makes us smile in the midst of suffering, hope makes the poor and hungry hope for a better tomorrow, hope makes the journey to holiness bearable and exciting. However, we ought to remember that Jesus in His sermon on the mountain (the beatitudes) refers to the poor in spirit, the mourners, the meek, the merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, persecuted for righteousness sake and suffer for Jesus ‘sake as the BLESSED with a promise. The question that we need to ask ourselves today as we celebrate our heroes and heroines in faith is; do I see myself among the blessed in the beatitudes? If no, why and what can I do to belong? And if yes, what can I do in order to remain in the family of those that are blessed and finally join the bigger family of the saints?
Wishing you a blessed and fruitful feast of the Saints as we also strive to be holy.