The remains of the ancient Christian Basilica in Philippi,
a walled city in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia.
Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II,
Three Sermons are posted here
1st that for Trinity XXIII (7th November)
2nd for Trinity XXII (31st October)
3rd for All Saints Day (1st November)
Sermon for Trinity XXIII
November 7, 2021
The Revd. Fr. William Martin
Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Cæsar the things
which are Cæsar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.
(St. Matthew xxii. 21)
One of the most difficult business of the Christian life involves holding things together. Think about it. We try to hold our bodies and souls together in the service of God. We try to hold are families together and pray that their bodies and souls are also serving God. We try to hold our nation together with a people whose bodies and souls not only ought to be held together peaceably but pray that we might all comprise one nation under God. Christians are quite intent upon holding things together. Yet, the temptation is forever to divide, rend asunder, and tear apart. We tear babies out of mothers’ wombs and call the separation a healthy choice. We rend asunder marriages because sacrificial love demands an unselfing that postmodern narcissists cannot abide. We divide our bodies from our souls thinking that their connection is arbitrary and without any spiritual interdependence and consequences. Of course, we’ve done nothing but divide ourselves from ourselves. What God intends to be one -one in oneself, one with others, one with Himself, we Christians are in danger of losing through division. But God always intends to hold us together through Jesus Christ our Lord and by the indwelling of the Holy Ghost.
Yet, our prayerful desire to hold it all together is not made easy. We pray in this morning’s Collect that the author of all Godliness…to hear the devout prayers of the Church, and grant that those things which we ask faithfully we may obtain effectually, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Of course, the whole point is that our prayers be devout. Devout praying is about asking God to hold us together individually and collectively. Christians ought to want to go to God’s Kingdom first and foremost by not offending God who is all good and deserving of all of our love, and by conquering sin and death. But Christians who are awake and alert find that God’s desire for us has competition from the world, the flesh, and the Devil, or from the realm that the Caesars of this world rule and govern.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be the case that all Caesars try to break God’s hold on us. Princes and kings of old often fought valiantly against the enemies of the Cross of Christ. But these days it seems that the Caesars are positively offended by anything and everything that relates to Jesus Christ, our King of Glory. Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s has become increasingly difficult in a world where the Caesars are positively godless and a real threat to our spiritual wellbeing. Caesars who disregard and disrespect freedom of conscience make it very hard for contemporary Christians to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s. It is even more difficult for intelligent Christians who know that modern freedom, of course, comes only from Jesus Christ, the King of Glory. The Caesars of this world fill men with fear over the gain and loss of perishable treasures and try to hold them captive to the false gods of mammon and fleeting happiness. Through faith and reason, Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, promises a more lasting reward and perpetual happiness.
Of course, the forces of division present in the contemporary world have been around since the dawn of time. In the world of today’s Epistle and Gospel, they were alive and well in the forms of vice or even heresy. Vice is common to all men in all ages and leads most men to Hellfire and Damnation. Heresy is a bit more interesting since it, at least, attempts to give man religion, as misconstrued as that may be. As we read last week, in his Epistle to the Philippians, St. Paul is writing to the first Christian Church in Europe. Today, we learn that he is warning them of both heresy and moral corruption. Moral corruption divides man from the good of his body, soul, and spirit, from the good of his neighbor, and from God. Heresy divides man from the knowledge of how God redeems the body, soul, and spirit, how He enables man to love his neighbor, and how He draws all men back to Himself. Heresy and moral corruption threaten salvation and man’s return to God.
St. Paul was dealing with heretics in the Early Church. He is worried about the Judaizers. Judaizers were early Jewish Christians who had infected Christianity with the demand that Christians should also be strict adherents to the Jewish Law. These Christians insisted that circumcision, dietary laws, and ritual observances were necessary to salvation since salvation came from the Jews. St. Paul, who knew the Jewish Law perfectly, was of the opinion that the Judaizers were encouraging Christians to be held by the Law and not by God in Jesus Christ. St. Paul knew that the Law hold on man could never save him. He writes to the Galatians, I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. (Gal. ii. 21) Again, he writes, For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh….(Rom. viii. 3) St. Paul believes that the Jewish Law was given to hold God’s people accountable to their sin and to remind them of the Law’s limitations. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. (Gal. iii. 24) The Law brought the Jewish people into the consciousness of being held by sin and death. So those who insisted upon the strict following of the Law, St. Paul has a solution. The strict adherence to the Jewish Law by ritual observances has been overcome by the Law made Flesh, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ alone has fulfilled the Law, has remained obedient to it, to the point of enduring its end, in unjust death, and has overcome it. Through His unearned, unmerited, and underserved death on the Cross of Calvary, Jesus Christ has brought the Law of Sin and Death to Death in His Death. Jesus Christ, the Forgiveness of Sins made flesh, has made Atonement for the sins of the whole world. The Old Law’s hold over us is dead. The New Law brings life and Resurrection if we allow that Forgiveness of Sins, Jesus Christ, to hold us. The New Law means that we can be held together with God once again in Jesus Christ. We can once again Render unto God the things that are God’s (Idem) because it was not possible that Jesus Christ should be holden of death. (Acts ii. 24)
Remember, Jewish Law and Roman Law, upheld by the Pharisees and Caesars respectively, are two expressions of the same Law: the Law of Sin and Death. Neither the Pharisees nor the Romans could overcome them. That neither Law could hold Christ down is the Miracle of Redemption. That Christ continues to hold us in His Liberating Hands is the Miracle of sanctification that leads to our salvation. God in Jesus Christ fills those who mind earthly things with holy terror. They fear what they cannot control. God’s rule and sway undermine their significance and credibility. If the Gospel is true and men learn of it, the hold that godless rulers have over us becomes irrelevant and absurd.
Yet, still, we as Christians must pray about what rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (Idem) really means. The heretics of the ancient world and the Caesars of our own seem Hell-bent on breaking Christ’s hold on our memories, minds, and hearts. St. Paul says Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (Phil. Iii. 2) He continues, Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the Cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) (Idem, 17-19) Long ago, St. Paul criticized the Jewish heretics and immoral believers to shed light on the dangers of Christians who are held by false gods and mind earthly things too much to be of any heavenly good to God, their neighbors, or themselves. He was showing that Christians can be as earthly-minded as the Pharisees or any pagan Caesars. Christians too can be dividers and sewers of discord, held by Satan and lost to Heaven’s hold.
So, how can we render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s if we are trying to escape his hold on us? And, why do we owe them anything? It doesn’t seem to make much sense. Jesus was talking about paying taxes to the Roman Emperor for the protection, law, and order that his Legion provided. That was not an unreasonable tax. But how does it apply to us? Perhaps, for us, Jesus means it in a spiritual sense. We can show Caesar that our [true] citizenship is in Heaven. (Ibid, 20) We can honor Caesar and his heathen friends by showing them that a much greater King has an eternal hold on us. From Heaven, we look for our Saviour, Jesus Christ, who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself. (Idem) We can tell our unbelieving neighbors that we too were once held in Satan’s grip by sin. We can relate to the Caesars that we are being saved by a better King, Jesus, who has an eternal hold on our souls because our frail flesh had no hope without the love of a more Glorious Ruler. We should render to Caesarthe witness and testimony of how King Jesus holds us in His loving embrace. We should render unto Caesar our mourning. With St. Paul, we weep…for those who are the enemies of the Cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, who mind earthly things. Let the Caesars know that we are in mourning for them until they find Christ. We render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s when we hold him in our heart and lift him up to our King in prayer.
Caesar had a hold on his citizens and all subject to His rule. His hold was his rule and he intended to make a handsome return. God has us in his hold if we acknowledge His rule and return to Him what is His own. We belong to God. Caesar belongs to God. Let us return ourselves to Him more fully in will and in deed through Jesus Christ. In rendering to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, King Jesus might just get a hold of him!
The Sermon for All Saints’ Day follows the next sermon:
Sermon For Trinity XXII October 31, 2021
The Revd. Fr. William Martin
Being confident of this very thing, that He who hath begun a good
work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ. (Phil. i. 6)
In the lections appointed for this morning’s service, we are presented with an excerpt from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Philippi is in modern-day Macedonia, north of Greece and east of the heel of Italy. The church here was the first to be established on European soil, and it seems that Paul maintained very good relations with it throughout his missionary career. The passage that we read is positive in tone, which is curious for those who know when and under what circumstances it was written. You see, tradition has it that this letter was written at the end of Paul’s life, when he was imprisoned in Rome, awaiting trial during the reign of the notorious Emperor Nero. Paul was under house arrest and writes a letter full of all hope, all thanksgiving, and all love. Paul is consumed with the Lord Jesus whom He receives continually through the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. St. Paul is determined to pass on the presence of Christ Jesus to his followers, though he is preparing for likely execution.
Nevertheless, he remembers with fondness the city of Philippi. God’s Grace was alive and well when there he first met Lydia, the maker of purple, and the first convert to Christianity on European soil. Lydia was from Thyatira but had moved to Philippi for business purposes. Thyatira was famous for having been a chief center in the Roman Empire for the indigo trade. Indigo is the plant made to produce dyes for coloring clothing, generating ink, and producing paint for all artisans. The color produced from indigo was costly and thus became the symbol of priestly and kingly power and prestige in the Ancient World. Archeologists have found remnants of inscriptions telling us of the Dyers’ Guilds of Thyatira. Lydia was, to our knowledge, wealthy from her trade in indigo. She first met St. Paul on his Second Missionary Journey to convert the Gentiles. St. Luke tells us, in his Acts of the Apostles, that when he, with St. Paul and their company of fellow Evangelists, arrived in Philippi:
…On the sabbath we went out of the city by a riverside,
where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down,
and spake unto the women which resorted thither.
And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple,
of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us:
whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the
things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized,
and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged
me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. (Acts xvi. 13-16)
That Lydia constrained them, leads us to believe that the itinerant preachers and Evangelists were more than slightly embarrassed with her riches and insistence that they lodge in her richly manor house. Nevertheless, Saints Paul and Luke and their companions took up her offer and began to establish the Church at Philippi surrounded by the opulence and generosity of their new patroness. That Lydia was a worshipper of God means that she was either a Jewess in exile or a Righteous Gentile. No matter. She opened her heart and home to her new Christian friends, was ready and willing to receive Jesus as the Messiah, was Baptized with her like-minded household, whose heart was one with hers, and the rest is history. The Church of Lydia’s House went on not only to expand and grow, but it also opened its collective heart and coffers to Paul when he was preaching in Thessalonica and when he was imprisoned at Rome. St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians is a letter of thanks for all of the kindness that Lydia and her church showed to him.
And here we find an amazing thing. Imagine being St. Paul, with a ball and chain around your ankle, awaiting your impending earthly demise at the hands of the Romans, and still continuing to give out the love of God with a grateful heart. What an amazing spiritual disposition that we encounter in St. Paul this morning. Paul is under house-arrest and his trusted friend St. Timothy is at his side. Addressing the Philippians, he writes, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you, making my prayer with all joy. (Idem, 3) Paul begins his letter by telling his friends that he thanks God for their fellowship in the Gospel and for the founding of the church. He thanks God, because God had given to him a spiritual family, companions in the Gospel, those who opened their hearts and souls to the reality of God with us, Jesus Christ. He thanks God because his new family, with him, can share in the truth that God is in his world, reconciling all things to himself. He is filled with joy and happiness for the very fact that his friends at Philippi constitute a very precious gift that he can hold in his heart and carry with him, even as he suffers unjustly at the hands of Nero and his henchmen. He reminds them that God has begun the good work of his Holy Spirit in them. He encourages them to cultivate the good work begun in them, the gift of God’s visitation in Jesus Christ. The work that God has begun at Philippi, Paul insists will be perfected and brought to completion if his friends remain faithful to the Lord Jesus and hope in His promises.
St. Paul then introduces a concept that invites his friends to take on his burden. Paul, in his suffering, takes in with joy the presence of Jesus Christ in the church at Philippi. He says, I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye are all partakers of Grace. For God is my witness how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. (Phil. i. 7) Now, Paul asks his friends to take on his burden. His burden is love. In other words, he asks those who are not facing imminent death, to take on his suffering with love, to hold him up in prayer, to put his weakness into their hearts, that he might be strengthened by their faith in Christ’s Grace. Paul presents to his friends at Philippi, and to us today, that wonderful theology of burden-bearing which will be established as a norm for Christian life for centuries.
Burden-bearing. Christ Jesus hangs on the Cross at Calvary and holds his friends and even His enemies in the center of His heart. Jesus takes on the burdens of sin, of suffering and death. He takes on the joy and sadness, weaknesses, and strengths of those who trust in Him. He says Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you…my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Though painful and hard, Christ takes on a burden that is His joy, His honor, and His privilege for us. Christ Jesus has taken on the burden of all mankind. The Lord takes on St. Paul’s weakness and fear. In turn, St. Paul takes on the burdens of others. Against his suffering, in Christ, he dares to hope for his fellow Christians. Hold me in your hearts; pray for me; ask the Lord to strengthen me and to help me. St. Paul asks his flocks to lift him up in prayer.
Burden-bearing is possible only because men realize that Christ has first born our burden of sin. From the Cross, He holds men in His heart, He forgives them their sins, and invites them onto the road that leads to salvation, Jesus Christ is the Forgiveness of Sins made flesh. He brings our sin to death, He rises up from death, and is ready to come alive in as many as will receive Him! Because St. Paul had been forgiven much, he can pass on Jesus Christ to others. Now, he counts it an honor to suffer for the sake of the Gospel. St. Paul reckons himself to be dead indeed unto sin but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. vi. 11) Now, he prays for the salvation of his sheep at Philippi because, though in bonds, he has them in his heart. (Idem)
In today’s Gospel, we read of the forgiveness of sins and our need to forgive always. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 St. John i. 8, 9) If we repent us of our sins and forgive all others, our Heavenly Father will forgive us. St. Paul feels the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, whom he persecuted and killed in others, in a dramatic volte face that converted and saved him from his journey into Hell. The forgiveness of sins, Jesus Christ, is now resurrected in Paul, he extends it to all others with mercy, compassion, pity, and long-suffering. If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 St. John i. 9)
PORTIA: The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
(The Merchant of Venice, Act-IV, Scene-I, Lines 173-195)
God’s mercy and love are made flesh as the Forgiveness of Sins in Jesus Christ. It blesses those who give it and those who receive it. It is of God’s nature to give it. It drops down from God’s heart as naturally as the gentle rains fall from the skies. It falls into those humble and lowly hearts which will receive it- a place beneath the heights of pride and vanity, resentment, fear, and pain. St. Paul was blessed by it. His flock at Philippi knows and returns it to him with rapturous joy. It comes always from a grateful heart. Its quality is greater than any suffering or sadness we may endure.
Today, we ask God to enable us to receive His forgiveness. Today we pray that the forgiveness of sins might be resurrected in us. We long to know the new and holy life in Jesus Christ. As Charles Williams reminds us, The new knowledge [in Jesus Christ] is to lose all recollection of past sin; it will be remembered neither in Heaven nor on earth; the Kingdom of the Lord is free from it. The new knowledge…is to be instinctive and natural, a lovely habit, a practice of joy…it is to be in the flesh of man and in his heart.” The new knowledge is the forgiveness of sins…all sins in all others, from our hearts, if we wish to travel to Heaven. Amen.
All Saints Day
November 1, 2021
The Revd. Fr. William Martin
After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number
Of all nations and kindreds and peoples, and tongues, stood before the
Throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, palms
In their hands, and cried with a loud voice saying, Salvation to our God
Which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
Today we celebrate the Feast of All Saints, and on this special day in the Church’s calendar we are called to reflect upon the meaning of this name for our common life together. With the Church Universal, we remember that great number which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and peoples, and tongues. (Idem) With Christians in all places, we thank God for the combined witness of so many different faithful people, called out from every culture and race, time and place, predicament and situation to blend their spiritual gifts for the glory of God and the salvation of the nations through one Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Teachers (Ephes. 4.11), Confessors, Doctors, Martyrs, Widows, Virgins, Kings, and Servants all comprise that glorious fellowship who with one voice forever sing Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb, because they became members of Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body long ago.
But in order to better grasp why we celebrate their lives today, first we should look at the definition of a Saint. Our English word Saint comes to us from the Latin sanctus, meaning holy, virtuous, confirmed, or set apart. The word in Greek is hagios, which, in the ancient sense, means full of awe, sacred, hallowed, and devoted to the gods. From our Epistle lesson for today, we learn that the Christian Saints were those who came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev. 7.14) So they are set apart because they were made sacred and hallowed by struggle, trial, and suffering.
Yet they were unlike their Greek and Latin pagan progenitors because their virtue was clearly not the result of good works and human effort. Rather, they opened their hearts and souls to that conversion and sanctification that comes only through the blood of the Lamb, shed by God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, once for all on Calvary’s Tree for the sins of the whole world. And what this means is that they were made holy, spiritually unique, distinct, and unlike all others because something happened to them, which had never before happened in the history of the world. In fact, what really happened to them is that rather than resting on the laurels of Greek Philosophy or even the merits of the Jewish Law, they opened their hearts to the God of Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ, they found that God was at work reconciling the world to Himself. (2 Cor. v. 19)
They were washed in the blood of the Lamb. What this meant was that as excellent as so many of them were by earthly standards and in faithfulness to the moral Law of the Jews and the Greeks, they were nevertheless sinners in need of a Saviour. Because they were so conscious of the sin that weighed them down and prevented them from ultimate and lasting union with God, they came to understand that God alone could save them from themselves. They were washed in the blood of the Lamb. With faith, hope, and love, they began to see that only God in Man, Jesus Christ, had taken on the problem of man’s sin, had overcome it, and had redeemed it. What they came to believe was that Jesus Christ alone had reclaimed human nature for God and had invited all men to share in the fruits of His accomplishment. And so, in some inexpressible way, His death on Calvary Hill would become their first step into the new life that He would offer to all of them. Christ’s all sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, in which He died to the world the flesh, and the devil innocently and without stain of any sin was thus made good. Through Jesus Christ, has become something radically new. Death now is good. Death is the first moment of new life. Christ’s Death to the sin, death, and Satan is now the pattern and model of Man’s Redemption and Reconciliation to God. This Death now constitutes the necessary first step out of corruption and into incorruption, out of sin and into righteousness, out of condemnation and into the forgiveness of sins. This Death is offered to us by Jesus who has become the forgiveness of sins in the flesh. And it is through His death and by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that all who turn away from earthly sin and the fear of earthly death can begin to die in a good and wholesome way to themselves as they simultaneously rise into the new life of Christ’s abiding virtue.
What this means, as our Gospel indicates today and history teaches us, is that the sinners began to become saints as they denied themselves, took up their cross[es], and followed [Jesus] (St. Matthew xvi. 24) through spiritual death and into new life. They became poor in spirit, knowing that they were powerless and in possession of nothing but sin and death, nothing of any worth coming from themselves that could ever make them any better. And so, trusting in the rich mercy of God in His Son, theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. (St. Matthew v. 3) They mourned over how their sins had earned their own spiritual death and spread such vicious infection to others, and so they are comforted. (Ibid, 4) They were meek and supple, humbled under the might hand of God (1 Peter ii. 5), knowing their limitations, now knowing that man is only and ever derived from God and dependent upon Him. And so, they inherited the earth (Ibid, 5) as the unmerited gift of Grace that began to make time and space forever new with the beautiful possibility of an abounding salvation that they had not earned and never deserved. They hungered and thirsted after righteousness, seeking first [God’s] Kingdom (St. Matthew vi. 33) and so were filled (Ibid, 6) with that spiritual bread from Heaven, even God’s own Word, His Son, Jesus Christ, bettering and perfecting them as they grow from strength to strength. (Ps. lxxxiv. 7) They [were] merciful, forgave every man his trespass against them (St. Matthew xviii. 35), and so they obtained mercy (Ibid, 7) as Christ the Forgiveness of Sins overtook their hearts. They [were] pure in heart or loved the Lord [their] God with all their hearts, souls, and strength and their neighbours as themselves (St. Matthew xxii. 37, 39) and so, now, they see God (Ibid, 8) They [were] peacemakers, and so their reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ made them the children of God (Ibid, 9), by welcoming others into the new birth that His peace creates. They [were] persecuted for righteousness’ sake…[were] reviled and slandered for [Jesus’] sake (Ibid, 10, 11), and so rejoiced and [were] exceeding glad…because they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts v. 41), for great is their reward in Heaven. (Ibid,12)
Together All Saints form a Communion or community of individuals who spent their lives trying to embrace and exchange the virtuous and godly life that the Beatitudes engender. They are the friends of Jesus as members of His Body, friends of one another, and our friends too. Together in communion and fellowshipthey are redeemed and sanctified, of one mind and one mouth glorifying God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans xv. 6) As Hans Urs Von Balthasar writes,
The Communion of Saints is a communion of open hearts, concerned only
with their common object, no longer preoccupied with the boundaries of the
‘I” and “Thou’. Since this dividing line has been pulled down, and the bastions,
once demolished, will never be re-erected, henceforth God’s salvation and His
ultimate and conclusive love can be encountered only in the ‘We’.
(H. Von Balthasar: You Crown the Year…)
Purity of heart is summed up in the sacrifice of self for the sake of a Communion and Fellowship –the ‘We”, who are moved collectively as friends through the love of Jesus Christ that yearns at all times for the salvation of all men. In this Communion of All Saints, God’s gifts and treasures in the life of each Saint blend into one harmonious song as God’s desire is multiplied and expanded into the community of His love. With songs of praise this community forever receives His love; with songs of desire its members forever long that His love may continue to reach all men in all ages.
So today on this Feast of the Solemnity of All Saints we thank God for the Mystical Body of His Son and the blessed company of all faithful people. Especially we remember before God all those who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which no man can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom we for evermore are one. (Prologue: Lessons and Carols) We are one with them in the desire that God will do with us what He did in them. We are called into the Mystical Community of Love that Christ generates out of them. With Cardinal Newman we remember that
So many were the wonderful works which our Saviour did on earth, that not even the world itself could have contained the books recording them…Surely not even the world itself could contain the records of His love, the history of those many Saints, that “cloud of Witnesses,” whom we today celebrate, His purchased possession in every age! We crowd these all up into one day; we mingle together in the brief remembrance of an hour all the choicest deeds, the holiest lives, the noblest labours, the most precious sufferings, which the sun ever saw. (Parochial Plain Sermons: 32)
Today so many Saints call us into the life that they live in and through Jesus Christ alone. Because they live and are not dead, their unceasing prayer is that we with them might be caught up in God’s His incessant desire for the salvation of all souls, the Mystical Civilization that Christ’s love forever longs to make. So let us love and follow their godly way, and make the Communion of Saints a point of our practice…being lovers of all good men, honoring them that fear the Lord and esteeming them very highly for their worth’s sake. Amen.