It's November 1 and I am on my way back from vacation. What better day than this Solemnity of All Saints. Solemnities are the most important days in the church's calendar. Usually today we think of white robes and heaven. But if you look at St. Paul's letters you see a much broader picture of who all saints refers to.
Certainly there are those people whom the Church has publicly declared saints because of their heroic virtue. And there all all those who have died in the peace of Christ. But again I invite you to open your Bible.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus through the will of God, to the saints that are at Ephesus, and the faithful in Christ Jesus - Eph 1:1
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons - Phil 1:1
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ [that are] at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Col 1:2
(1) Paul, called [to be] an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, [even] them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called [to be] saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their [Lord] and ours 1 Cor 1-2.
And so on.
In fact, I could not find a single letter of St. Paul addressed to sinners.
So if St. Paul addresses the members of the churches as saints why do we want to always focus on the fact that we are sinners? The simple answer is that it is easier.
If I keep telling myself and others that I am a sinner, then I have an excuse for everything. My attempts at being good can always have this half-hearted quality. If I resign myself to failure, life is just less work.
To be a saint is hard work. It requires constant dependence on God and God's grace. It requires us to constantly fight the temptation to be self-centered. Being a saint requires us to constantly surrender our will to God's will. It requires constant vigilance. And when we fall into sin, it requires an immediate desire to repent. It requires constant conversion, a constant turning toward Christ.
So if we are lazy or just cowardly, we can just keep repeating the words, I am a sinner, we are all sinners and continue to wallow in the mud. Or on this Solemnity of All Saints we can stand up and have courage, have real faith, and read the words of St. Paul as if they are addressed to each one of us personally. On this first day of November, make a new start, let go of your ego, and live as one called to be a saint.