Last Monday, November 1st, was All Saints Day. In the Church’s liturgy, this Feast Day is moveable to the first Sunday in November. This coming Sunday, the first Sunday of November, we celebrate the Feast of All Saints.
All Saints Day invites us to contemplate on God through whom fallen humans are transformed into saints. Sunday’s gospel (John 11:32-44) demonstrates God’s glory, God’s spiritual power over life and death. Bodily decay begins after three days, and Lazarus has been dead for four days. But Jesus commands life for Lazarus by the authority of His word, “Lazarus, come out!” And life returns to Lazarus. In Lazarus’ resuscitation, we discern God’s vision for healing, for wholeness, for freedom from pain, for a new creation transformed in love. Jesus’ later death and victorious resurrection opened the way for the new, everlasting life for all believers.
On All Saints Day, we celebrate the departed souls who by faith discerned God’s vision of life beyond the physical world. Convinced of the truth of God’s inexhaustible love and His promise of eternal life, they loosened their hold on the material world. Filled with the Spirit, they lived and spoke God’s word boldly and courageously, unmindful of the consequences. The departed saints become a great cloud of heavenly witness, who join with the Church on earth in praising and adoring God in Christ. We honor all the saints of the Church for shining the light of Christ on the world. We remember also the multitude of unnamed saints known only by God; the faithfulness of priests, parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, and others who by their expression of God’s love left a heritage of spiritual fruits.
Are we saints? The Apostle Paul addressing the Church in Rome, wrote, “To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints…” We are called by God to be saints. Paul exhorts the believers, prospective saints, to set their minds on the things of the spirit. But it seems that Lazarus is in some way, a metaphor for each of us. Just as Jesus ordered that Lazarus be unbound from the grave cloth, we also need to be unbound from the death-cloths of this world. Jesus desires to unbind us, to save us, to make us saints. He alone has the divine power to do so. All Saints Day calls us to honestly question if we are bound more to the things of the world than to the Spirit. We examine ourselves, then in confession, we lift up our heads to God who gives us the grace of striving to live in the Spirit.