ALL HOLY MEN AND WOMEN PRAY FOR US...
Among the many things that sadly divide Christians - today’s feast is probably one of them: the Saints. A lot of it comes from misunderstandings or misinterpretations. There are some that some accuse Catholics of “worshiping” Saints; making them “gods” and saying “why do you pray to them... why don’t you just go to Jesus yourself with your prayers?”
And whenever these debates or arguments come up, I usually say “we do go to Jesus ourselves with our prayers, but we also ask others to pray for us. Why? Well, because... the Bible tells us to do so. St. Paul tells the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians to pray for Him... He also tells these communities that he’s praying for them. So in scripture we see the Apostles knew of the importance and the power that came from people praying for one another. That it unites us as the Body of Christ to “bear one another’s burdens” as Paul tells us in his letter to the Galatians.
So if we’re going to ask one another to pray for each other, who better to ask then the Saints? Saint James in his letter says “the fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful” (James 5:16). So it makes sense for us to ask the Saints not only to pray for us. We ask those who’ve lived heroic, virtuous, holy lives to inspire us... to encourage us when life gets tough... when we’ve been tempted to sin (or even given into sin) to remember their stories which tells us of a God who never gave up on them and who never gives up on us. That when we have our fears or worries or trials that cause us to doubt – we hear their stories, imagining how they faced similar fears or worries or trials or even worse ones. Yet in those moments of struggle, they found the strength of the Holy Spirit within themselves to never give into despair, never believe the lies of the devil... They carried within themselves the truth that Jesus has conquered the ultimate thing that causes humanity to be afraid – death, and if we focus our lives on Him, like the Saints did, we are promised to live in eternity with Him, and all the saints...
That’s why this Gospel is such a perfect one. So often when we hear this passage, because it’s familiar we might not pay close attention. But think about how relatable it is. Just going through the list of Beattitudes- who here hasn’t mourned? ; or been wronged and sought justice. How often are you mocked because you even come to Mass? More than likely, we can find a lot of things in these verses that seem familiar to our lives and things we’ve experienced.
What makes the saints Saints is that these countless numbers of men and women experienced those same realities in their own lives, but also found Jesus Christ was there in the midst through it all. So even though they mourned, they knew to call out to God in their sorrow. Even though they were persecuted or hungered and thirsted for righteousness, they didn’t whine, whimper of complain - but struggled for what was just, stood confident in their faith. They were merciful and meek, not in just laying down and getting taken advantage of, but rather doing the more difficult thing – learning to forgive gross injustices, and in that, constantly displayed the power of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ in every day and age.
As we continue our life journey’s, we hope to share the same eternal reward that the Saints enjoy: an eternity in the Mansion our Heavenly Father has prepared for us that our Savior has promised us will be ours if we follow Him, follow these words of His. In the meantime, may the Saints continue to pray for us that we will never waver in pursuit of that eternal reward.
Posted by Fr. Jim Chern