Today instead of talking about the Tanakh, we will expand somewhat, as today is All Saints Sunday, otherwise known as All Hallows Sunday. This is one of the four special days we set apart for Baptism. The four days are: The 1st Sunday after Epiphany, in which we celebrate the baptism of Jesus (for obvious reasons); Easter, because we are raised from death unto life, from slavery to sin, to freedom from sin; Pentecost because in baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit; and All Saints Day or All Saints Sunday because we become saints through our baptism.
What is a saint? First looking at the Biblical words: the word sanctify, or hallow means to set apart. One of the Bibles I am currently using is called the Scriptures. Repeatedly instead of using the words sanctify, or hallow, it gives us the words to set apart. The holy place is the set apart place. In other words, when we are baptized, we are set apart from the World, and set apart to God’s service. This is truly a high calling. Similarly, Abraham was called to be set apart from worshipping idols. The people of Israel were set apart from the sinful people around them. They were called to wear Tsit Tsit or tassels on the corners of their garments, with one blue thread. I wear this myself, and the one blue thread amongst the white ones reminds me that by reason of my Baptism, I am set apart to do God’s work.
This of course is good news, we are all set apart from the world to do God’s work, not in our own power, but through the power of the Holy Spirit. As we are told in the New Testament, the Holy Spirit will give us the power and wisdom and knowledge we need to do the work of the kingdom, which is two fold, to build up the church by preaching the Gospel, thereby adding new members, and to build up the church by encouraging, teaching, guiding and healing each others.
There is of course the more modern meaning of saint, which is a person who is super good and does miracles on God’s behalf. Now of course the Bible suggests, that if we are truly set apart from the world, that is truly serving God, then we will work miracles. Yeshua himself states we will do greater things than he did, and that whatever we ask in his name will be granted. A saint in this sense is someone who is so set apart from the world, that he truly knows God’s will, and is a servant to that will, and therefore works miracles. Of course not all the saints worked miracles. Some of them witnessed to Yeshua, even being killed for him. We have martyrs even today who go to their deaths singing praises to God. We have other saints who do whatever it takes to serve God in the way he called us. St. Frances, or Mother Teresa of Calcutta would be examples of these saints. Other saints, such as St. Patrick demonstrated wonderful powers of forgiveness. Others like John Wesley were wonderful preachers. Others such as Jerome, Wycliff, Coverdale, and Huss suffered for rendering the scripture into modern languages. In other words, these saints are the heroes of the church. They show us that men who are not God can still do his work.
As we celebrate this day of remembrance of the various saints, let us remember we are called to be set apart from the world, to do God’s work here on Earth, and to be heroes of the church showing others that we can follow Yehsua, “doing justice, loving with all our hearts and walking humbly with our God.” (Micah 6:8)
Mar Michael Abportus, OSL
Pastor, Benim Avraham