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All Saints


Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church Budapest, Hungary Revelation 7:9-17; Psalm 34:1-10, 22; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12 Blessed are you... As many of you will know, the Bishop recently named me as a Canon of the Diocese, an honorary title similar to that of Monsignor in the Roman Catholic Church. I am very grateful to the Bishop’s for his show of support to my, or I should say, our ministry, though I am far from certain that my being, so to speak, canonized, brings me any closer to holiness or sainthood. Those who know me best would, I am sure, agree that it has not. But on the other hand, I am consoled in the realization that all of us are called to sainthood. And we do not need to become a canon or go through the lengthy post-mortem canonization process of some Churches in order to achieve this status. In a sense, sainthood belongs to each of by virtue of our Baptism and our faith. We are all saints. And not just on the festival day of All Saints. By the way, no one is quite sure of the origin of All Saints Day. Most scholars and historians date it back to the eighth or ninth century in either ancient Antioch or Rome, making it in the church scheme of things a relatively new celebration. In any case, the idea of All Saints caught on fast, for it is a concept virtually all saints of any place or time, no matter their race or background, from childhood to old age, can understand and cherish. We all have a part in holiness and the beatitude of the Gospel life after all. For sainthood, it should be obvious, is not just for dead people. We are all called to holiness and oneness with God, to sainthood. As one now-dead saint put it when he was still alive and kicking,iftheChurchisnotcreatingandnurturingsaints,itissimplynotdoingitsjob. Indeed, to create and nurture saints would not be a bad vision or mission statement for any church community, including Saint Margaret’s, as we celebrate Christ at work in our lives and remember that we are the All in All Saints. What it means exactly to be holy, to be a saint, is perhaps another matter, one a bit more difficult to define. We might at first be tempted to think of those who commune readily and regularly with God, monks or nuns in their monasteries and convents or those at constant prayer. We might think of the eccentric Saint Simon Stylites who lived for many years, according to legend, at the top of a narrow tower in order to be closer to God in heaven. But then we might also think of those saints who were known for their great acts of love and charity toward others. Our own Saint Margaret of Scotland, for instance, come to mind; a

friend of the orphan and widow. Or, we might think in our own day of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who spent her life ministering to the sick and suffering. Then, there are the saints, such as Saint Stephen of Hungary, who perhaps became saints by dint of office, by what they did for their people and for the faith. A lot of sainted popes probably fall into this category; sainthood as an occupational hazard, I suppose. Personally, I do not think the churches lift up enough ordinary saints. There are relatively few married saints for instance, no doubt because over the centuries monks and popes usually got to decide who the official saints are. There are not too many named women saints either, and I think this is also a great injustice. There are not many children who have been declared saints, although for their innocence and simplicity children may be the closest we come to having saints living in our midst on a regular basis, as hard as it may be to believe when one of them is throwing a tantrum. There are not many teenage saints either, even though getting through adolescence in one piece surely deserves a medal if not canonisation. Still, saints are at heart people of flesh and blood like everyone else, like us. In one sense, sainthood is probably as simple as allowing God in Christ to live in us and through us. Contrary to popular opinion, sainthood is after all not anything we do. It is who and what we are in Christ. Let me repeat that: we are all saints not because of anything we do, as much as we may wish it were so, but because of what God has done in and for us; first loving us into existence and lastly making us one with God in Christ. Blessed are you, declares our Lord in the Beatitudes. Which is another way of saying happy are you. Happy are we. For, Christ lives today in and through us, in and through all those privileged to be his saints. If Christ was poor in Spirit, so must we be. If Christ was meek, so should we be. If Christ was merciful, so ought we to be. If Christ was pure in heart, it becomes our challenge to be pure in heart. And if Christ was a peacemaker, so are we, if we are truly to be members of his one Body and all saints of God; all challenges in this world of which we are a part, as filled as it is with greed, rage, infidelity, and, alas, war. What began at our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount and the preaching of the Beatitudes finds its fulfillment today among all the saints, in the Communion of Saints, of which we are a part. As difficult as it can be sometimes to believe in these days of terror and tumult, Christ is still alive in our world and in us. And that is reason enough to rejoice, to be happy, to be blessed. Reason enough to understand that in Christ we are one people, one race, one nation, no matter the distance between us. We are all canonized. And so we pray this morning in the words of the Book of Revelation, “Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” The Rev. Dr. Frank Hegedűs

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