(Hebr. 11:33-12:2 Matthew 10: 32-33,37-38 and 19:27-30)
Today, on this first Sunday after Pentecost, we celebrate the memory of All Saints. Why today? Because the Saints are the “Fruit” of the Holy Spirit, and of the Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. Before the coming of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the world, saints did not exist and could not exist. This is because, “through one man- Adam- sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned.” (Romans 5:12).
After the coming of the Holy Spirit, people were then able to share in the holiness of God. How could they do this? The answer, is when they come to know the true God, believe in the Holy Trinity (as referred to in the Symbol of Faith), are baptized, chrismated, receive Holy Communion (which is the Holy Body and Blood of Christ), accept the Grace of the Holy Sacraments of the Church, and struggle to live according to the Will of God. That is why the Apostle Peter urges: “as He-God-who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15).
The question is often asked: Is it possible for ordinary people living in the world, with so many temptations, to become saints? This question arises from a false perception of the Saints. When we try to live a holy life, we do not mean that we seek to reach the heights that they reached to be known as “a Saint” and to be honored. This is a pharisaism that Christ has condemned. It is wrong to think that all the Saints were required by God to be extraordinary miracle workers to reveal their holiness. It should be made clear that there is more to being a saint than just miracles! In fact, there are a great many Saints whose written lives do not mention a single miracle. Most of the Saints lived in society like we do and faced the temptations of the world every day. With God’s help, they fought and defeated these forces and were so honored by the Lord with the halo of holiness. Men, women, young people, and children from all social classes became saints. Not only army generals, but also ordinary soldiers; kings and rulers, but also slaves; philosophers and the illiterate; rich and poor; and people who practiced various professions. We see gardeners, tailors, cooks, grocers, merchants, actors, prison guards, and even the executioners and torturers of Christians. The Saints did not become sinless, as only God is sinless! No one is without sin, and in fact some of those who became saints had fallen into severe sins in their former lives, some too obscene to mention. But they repented sincerely, and saw the temptations they encountered as God’s training. As the Apostle Paul writes: Our heavenly Father educates us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). So with the grace of the Holy Sacraments of the Church, but also with their personal spiritual struggle, they arrived to a state of holiness and salvation, which is the ultimate purpose of the Christian life.
My dear brothers and sisters, the promptings of God's word, such as pursuing holiness (see Hebrews 12:14), are not directed at some chosen Christians, but to all of us. If it was not possible for every baptized Christian to become holy, would God ask for it? His word is clear: "This is the will of God, your sanctification" (1 Thessalonians 4: 3). God as Creator and Father knows what is possible for each of us. Would He ever ask us to do something that is impossible? And what he asks for is necessary, for without holiness "no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). Besides, the existence of millions of Saints, from the Apostolic Era to the present time proves that holiness can be achieved by all of us as long as we want it and try for it. Let us therefore study often the lives of the Saints and let us struggle to follow them. That is why, in all the Holy Services of our Church, we often reiterate: "Remembering our most holy...Virgin Mary, with all the Saints, let us commit ourselves...and our whole life to Christ our God”.