Flannery O’Conner said, “What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is a cross.”
The first Sunday after Pentecost is dedicated to the commemoration of all the saints. The writer to the Hebrews lists all that the saints have gone through and the blood they shed and then says, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” Our commemoration of All Saints teaches us at least two things:
1. We are called to be saints. Saintliness is not an abnormal or exceptional state: it is, on the contrary, the normal flowering of every Christian life. This call to holiness is address to each of us. Saint Paul addressed his letters to the faithful in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Phillipi and Collosae as saints. Do we have the will to follow Christ when it is costly? That’s why the Flannery O’Conner quote hits me. I want the electric blanket of doing what I want, when I want, with who I want. I read today (Matthew 5:42) “Give to him who begs from you..” I can almost 100% guarantee the Lord is bringing me my homeless today. Will I respond like a man who thinks faith is an electric blanket or like a man who believes that faith is a cross?
2. We don’t believe that we are the Church without those who have gone before us. If those who have died are non-existent (as many describe death) than how is it that Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus on the mountain of transformation? Jesus has trampled down death by death and bestowed life to those in the tombs. Those who have died are alive in Christ. We remember the departed and they remember us.
1 Corinthians 1:2 To the Church of God, which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Why remember all the saints? Because they are us, we are them.
All Saints Sunday readings in the Orthodox Church: Hebrews 11:33-12:2 and St. Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30