Sunday, November 01, 2015


Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on All Saints' Day 2015

You've heard it said that all Christians are saints in preparation. We're all supposed to be on the pathway to sainthood. Do you feel like a saint? Honestly? Why not?


We often see the world divide human beings into two categories - saint or sinner. You know that that's a rather over-simplistic way of looking at things. Yet, we are always tempted to contrast saints with sinners. Indeed, we should look to the saints for examples of how humanity should interact with God and thus officially be recognised as saints. To the world, saints never do anything wrong: they are real life superheros! We see statues and ikons of them in church and, for some people, this can be the equivalent of seeing a big red S painted on their chests.

The trouble is, if we see the saints as super-human, then we have missed the whole point of what a saint really is. To see them as somehow above what we are capable of being is to forget their struggles in life or to trivialise our own.

The fact is that the saints do not brush off temptation as easily as Superman brushes bullets off his chest of steel. They do not avoid sin faster than a speeding bullet. Every day of their lives, the saints battle sin, temptation, and spiritual turmoil just like we do. So what is the real difference between them and us?


If we truly, honestly and fully seek God and His righteousness, then there is no difference whatsoever. Remember that the title "saint" refers not to the person, but to God. To be a saint is to be set apart from the world by God. God sanctifies us continually if we let Him. Yet the fact of the matter is that, for any human being, there is conflict, struggle and failure. Listen to the Beatitudes again as Our Lord speaks to us:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad; for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

Who is more blessed than the saints. All saints live this life of poverty in spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering for righteousness, mercy, purity, peacemaking, and persecution. All of these come to every Christian at one time or another, and if we embrace these, then we find ourselves in the company of the saints.


The whole point of the saints is that they once were like us, but now they are perfected in God. That's not an exclusion for us, but it is the destiny of the Church and all her members. We have to decide whether we are to live our lives in the company of saints, or not. They intercede for us because they once were like us, and still share our humanity. They are still part of our Church and they are channels for God's blessing.

We really are saints in preparation, but we have to accept that we must need perfection. That can only come about through cooperation with the grace of God. Let us therefore always reach out for God and allow His perfection to continue in our lives.

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