Monday, November 1, 2010

Saints and their role in our lives

There’s a certain maturity that is required of everything in life. Just look at nature, and you will see this evidence in abundance. It is only when seeds sprout, germinate, grow, develop and flower will we see the possibility of the fruit that gives new life. Cut a tree prematurely, and you will not see it grow, and not see it reach the necessary maturity to bear fruit.

Insects and animals all have the same pattern. There is a certain requirement for a maturity to develop, not so much for itself, but for the continuation of the species.

What is our ultimate aim in life? To work? To have a family? To be educated? Yes, these are good in themselves, but they don’t last eternally. There’s something that does last for eternity, and that is our life in God. We as baptized children of God have as our aim, to develop, grow and mature this relationship that we have with God. Every saint that is in heaven now, enjoying the beatific vision of God has reached maturity in his or her relationship with God. While we are on the way there in this life, the growth process is not yet where it should be. Our personal brokenness somehow stifles and prevents a full maturity and fruition of our lives.

Canonized saints have their feast days celebrated in the liturgical calendar year, but to be sure, there are many, many more saints than there are days in a calendar year. So, on this day, the church revels in the belief that these people are in that eternal embrace of God, and are not uncomfortable about it.

That’s what being in heaven can be described as. We all long for love in some ways, and the highest expression of love is when we are enfolded in the embrace of God who is love. Yes, we all long for that, but at the same time, we know that there could well be a lot of discomfort and uneasiness when we are embraced by the all-loving God. It’s just like some children who experience this embrace by loving parents or grandparents. Some of them squirm and fidget, feeling all so awkward and uncomfortable. Somehow, they know it’s a good thing, but at the same time, they know they feel unworthy of this grand display of love, and they want out. Some may feel that it’s not cool.

Couples having been married for years may also, strangely, have the same experience. Much as they want to be embraced in an unconditional love by the spouse, they know that somehow, it’s not complete even in this world. They know that somehow, the irony of love is that in this world, there are some loves that will always be left unfulfilled. Some feel unworthy, and some, because of a personal contribution to a friction in the relationship, know that this physical embrace is not as pure as it should be.

What is this discomfort? It is sin. It’s our inability to live maturely and respond maturely to the love that is being given, and we have to work this out before entering heaven’s eternal embrace. The saints who are in heaven have worked it out and purified this. Some in this life, and others (and this probably is the majority) in the purification of purgatory. But however the purification, the saints are now completely comfortable and no longer struggling in God’s eternal embrace. There is a complete giving and complete receiving of that love, which is God’s plan for love.

Why we need to celebrate All Saints’ Day is because we need to know for a fact that there are many whose lives bear testimony to living out love to its fullest. We need heroes who we can model after, and we need to know that there is a goal, a destination, a fulfilling and yes, a fruiting which many now are inside of, and this is where we are all hoping for ourselves too.

We need to remember that heaven is a reality, and that there are multitudes that are already in that mature relationship with God. The saints are the seeds that have been sown, germinated, grown, flowered and fruited, and leave us all a bit of their fruitfulness and shade so that we too can do the same for our lives and the lives of others. In them, we have models to teach us that not only is this kind of loving possible, but that it is also absolutely necessary.


  1. 'Sin a discomfort...' - what a disarmingly refreshing and compassionate way to look at sin.Yet underlying this is a profound truth. It puts me in mind of a childhood fairytale of the Princess & the Pea.The poor little princess tossed and turned in her comfortable bed and could not sleep a wink because she felt a discomfort. Finally, they located the culprit - it was a little pea tucked beneath the bedlinen ! All were amazed at how a humble little pea could be a cause of so much discomfort & misery.
    I feel that's what sin ( however small or little) does to us. Though we may be the only person aware of it, this knowledge makes it absolutely necessary that we are cleansed of it before we can be comfortable to be drawn & enfolded in Love. Thank you Fr.


  2. Dear Fr Luke
    Though I am far from the reality of being a saint, All Saint's Day is a day to look forward to as it reminds us of our destiny to reach heaven and be a saint in God's presence.

    Since I got started as a lector and sometimes got to read 2 readings at a go and the universal prayers as well, I felt much closer to the table of the Lord and that I did enough to warrant His attention to my presence at the Altar. For once I was eagerly looking forward to the Eucharistic Meal after doing my part in proclaiming the Word of the Lord.

    But then, it is still His invitation that makes me worthy to receive Him in Holy Communion and His Grace that would see me a saint on my last day! As I lay in my coffin, with all my loved ones around receiving Holy Communion at my last Holy Mass, would I be in Communion with the Lord as well?