The Making Of A Saint
Solemnity of All Saints
Scripture Readings: Revelations 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6;
1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5: 1-12a
My dear encountered couples:
They couldn’t have made it without Christ. All those we are honoring today, all the saints, would never have made it into heaven except for Jesus Christ. Jesus taught them how to live, and he provided the help they needed to live up to his teachings. But they also worked very hard at it themselves. Otherwise they would not have become saints. How can we become saints? The same way. A lot of help on God’s part, a lot of effort on ours.
The first Beatitude tells us, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: the reign of God is theirs.” Those who are humble, those who realize their powerlessness to grow in holiness by themselves alone, and those who admit they cannot arrive anywhere near the perfection taught by Christ without the help of the Holy Spirit – those are the people who have met the first qualification for sainthood. The second is that they put a lot of their own personal effort into it.
Realization of powerlessness and reaching out to Christ combined with personal effort. That’s how all the people we honor today became saints. They and God did it together. Neither could have accomplished it alone. God cannot make you a saint unless you give him your permission and accept his help; you cannot make yourself a saint with only your own efforts. But sometimes we try, don’t we?
We try to make saints out of ourselves, or at least we try to improve ourselves. We know the teachings of Christ; we vow to live up to them. For a while we can, but sooner or later we fail. Try as we might, the more we work on improving ourselves, just when we think we’ve made it, something happens and we’re back at “Square 1.” Bad habits are hard to break, sinful ones impossible to get rid of on our own. Experience teaches we need help.
Saints are those who reached out to God for that help. God’s help and our efforts combined produce sainthood. One will not work without the other. Do you have a drinking problem, is it your temper you can’t control, are you a gossiper, how about a sexual addiction? What is it that keeps you from being the person God wants you to be? You and God together can work it out. Not just you by yourself, not just God by himself, it takes the two of you in cooperation with one another.
Have you ever prayed to be delivered from something undesirable in yourself, like maybe depression or moodiness, and then just left it to God to take care of? Without you doing anything at all about it? Have you ever tried to forgive people, rid yourself of feelings of prejudice, or resolved to give up smoking without asking God to help you?
We are powerless without God, yet we must work hard at our own sanctification. “Who do you think these are all dressed in white?” the elder asked John. “Sir, you should know better than I,” John responded.
The elder then said, “These are the ones who have survived the great period of trial; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb.”