“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev.7:9). This is how St. John gives us an eloquent vision of all the saints in heaven. Among them there are those who shed their blood for faith. There are those who served Church as popes, bishops, priests and religious. There are those who devoted their entire life to the study of the Bible and to the preaching of Gospel. There are those who spent their whole life in faraway mission countries. But a majority of them are ordinary men and women who led their ordinary life with extraordinary conviction of their Christian faith. All of us called to be there where they are.
In the vision one of the elders ask John, “who are these robed in white, and where have they come from? (Rev.17:13). In other words, the question is “who are the Saints?” The elder himself answers to John by saying that “these are they who have come out of the great ordeal” (Rev.7:13-14). In the scripture often Life of faith is presented as a spiritual fight. St. Ambrose says, “The life of saints is a norm of life for others.” Saints are our models in our spiritual fight of faith. Their lives reveal the wonderful working of God’s grace in human weakness. They had difficulties, problems and weaknesses as we have. But they fought against them with faith, hope and love.
Saints are those who lived believing the blessedness contained in the beatitudes taught by Jesus (Mt5:3-12). Their way of being in the world was quite different from many people in the world. The saints were poor in spirit. They were humble, meek, poor in heart and merciful. They worked for peace and unity. They endured, hunger, thirst and persecution for righteousness’s sake.
Looking at the way saints lived and the way they died, many in the world might feel like saying what the unrighteous said about the righteous, in the book of Wisdom, “What fools we were! We thought he was mad to live the way he did, and when he died, we didn’t honor him. And now here he is, as one of God’s own children, with a place of his own among the people. We were the ones who wandered off the right path” (Wis 5:4-6).
In saints we discover that sanctity is the perfection of charity. Pope Benedict XVI wrote in his encyclical, “In the saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God do not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them. (Deus caritas est, 40-42). As Vincentians we know this very well from the life St. Vincent and St. Louise.
Let me conclude this reflection with a quote from the letter to Hebrews: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12: 1-2).
About the Author:
Fr. Binoy Puthusery, C.M. is a Vincentian priest belonging to the Southern Indian Province. He was ordained as priest on December 27, 2008 and soon after served as an assistant parish priest in Tanzania. In 2011, after two years of ministry, he was appointed as Spiritual Director to the Vincentian Sisters of Mercy, Mbinga Tanzania, where he still is today.
Tags: All Saints, Binoy Puthusery