Today is the Feast of All Saints, the day on which the Orthodox Church celebrates all those who dedicated their lives to Christ, whether we know their name or not. Today we honor those holy men and women, no matter their social status, no matter their wealth, no matter their rank, no matter their race. Today we are called to something beyond the worldly categories. Today we are called to be saints, and live our lives as those who are honored today.
It is too easy to dismiss sainthood with, “I’m not a Saint,” or, “Nobody’s perfect.” In fact if you study the lives of the Saints we honor today, many of them lived very similar lives to our lives today, before choosing to dedicate their lives to Christ. Many indeed lived much ‘worse’ lives than we do today, but still we honor them as Saints of Church. We don’t honor them because they lived perfect lives. We honor them because they lived saintly lives….so what is a Saint?
It is important that we understand what a saint is, before we dismiss our ability or willingness to become one. The word “saint” is translated from the Greek word, “Άγιος” which means “not earthly” in the strictest sense. It means that a ‘saint’ lives a life that is not based on the world, but is based on heaven. As baptized Orthodox Christians we are already saints because we are citizens of paradise instead of citizens of the earth. The only thing lacking in our lives is the lifestyle of a citizen of paradise. That’s where repentance comes.
All the great Saints of the Church, such as Saint Paul and Saint Mary of Egypt, lived lives of repentance. They realized their earthly lives were not what God wanted for them, so they dedicated their daily existence to living heavenly lives instead. In the end, the Church recognized the good example of their heavenly lives and bestowed upon them the ‘title’ of Saint. Knowing who succeeded in that journey helps us today to find the courage and desire to dedicate our lives to Christ rather than the earthly existence.
So, where do we begin this holy life? It begins with the opening verse from today’s Gospel, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will confess before My Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10.32) Our holy life begins with confessing to our friends, our family, our coworkers, our neighbors, and those we meet on the street, our choice to live not according to the world, but according to God. The confession is not always with words, but more often with actions. The Saints we honor today LIVED holy lives, they didn’t just SPEAK holy lives. Our daily choices become our confession, and when we choose to live according to heaven, Christ has already promised to honor us by acknowledging us to His Father.
So let’s get living holy lives…..and be the saints we are called to be!