Rev 7:2-14; Ps 24 Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Today we commemorate All Saints Day. We look at those men and women who we believe are with God in heaven as a model for us as we continue to journey forth in faith.
We call them holy men and women or saints of God. Think about that word for a moment, "Saint".
In english we say saint or holy but in greek it is haggios, in hebrew it is kodesh, in latin, Sanctus.
We often apply the word holy to people, place, or even a thing that is generally considered sacred, such as the Holy Bible, or the Holy places in Jerusalem, or Saint Peter or Saint Paul.
In english when we sing the Gloria, there is a phrase that states "you alone are the holy one" or latin, "You alone are the saint."
Holiness is truly an attribute of God. It rightly belongs to God, he is holy. In hebrew the word kodesh is properly applied only to God. It refers to God's essence. Anything that was considered holy was due because of its relation to God himself, his presence. The holy place was holy because it was considered to be a reserve or preserve of God's presence.
No individual human is holy. Holy is holy because of its association with God by God's call or election. The Sabbath is holy because of God's special presence, as are the tabernacle and the temple. Israel is holy because God chose to dwell among them as his chosen people. Such is the same for the ARK of the covenant, the law, the priestly vestments. Men are just and perhaps even righteous but no man is called holy or a saint in hebrew scripture.
However in the prophet Daniel there seems to be a change of attitude. In Daniel's vision of the Son of Man who comes to rule and who share his rule with the people of earth who are called "saints." Daniel 7:18,27
These "saints" that Daniel speaks of are in a vision of things yet to come, a kingdom yet to come. Daniel sees the Messiah as human yet able to act with the power of God.
Which brings us to the gospels. When Jesus is conceived the angel note that the "child to be born will be called holy." This child possess a quality that belongs to God alone. Through Jesus flesh we now have access to the holiest of holies. In fact we are made holy by the blood of Jesus.
Jesus' holiness is communicable. Holiness breaks into the world when the Word becomes flesh and it breaks out in unexpected places. No longer is it reserved in the precincts of Jerusalem or exclusively to the people of Israel or confined to 24 hour period of the Sabbath, holiness erupted in ordinary lives of ordinary people everywhere. (The above is summary taken from Scott Hahn's book Angels and Saints: A biblical Guide to Friendship with God's Holy Ones)
This is what is different about following Christ. Holiness is now shared with us. We belong to the in crowd. Think about today's gospel. Jesus sits down on the mount of Beatitude to deliver his first sermon. The crowds were gathered watching Jesus' every move. So Jesus seeing the crowds sits down. The next line is always telling, "his disciples came to him."
We have to be willing to step out of the crowd if we are going to be true witnesses of God's goodness and bearers of his holiness. This is what St Paul means when in the letter of Romans he addresses all the members of that community as "saints." The title saints seems to be a synonym for being called Christian. In fact the cause of this holiness is the fact that we are in Christ. We have become partakers of divine nature as St Peter exhorts us (2 Peter 1:4). We share in God's nature because he has chosen to share in our human nature. Here is the source of holiness we celebrate on All Saints Day.
In Jesus Christ our humanity has become a bridge that unites us to the holiness of God transforming us and transforming the world around us.
In Christ we are children God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ. God, what he has by nature has shared with us through grace.
It is through Baptism that this is accomplished as St Paul tells us in Galatians 3:24-29, "For all you who are baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
As we celebrate the saints of old, be reminded that we are called to be saint a new.
The Saints above invite us saints below to transform the world by the presence of God we take with us as we go.