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In Christ, we are baptized to become saints Print
Guest column
Thursday, Nov. 16, 2017 -- 12:00 AM

Word on Fire
Fr. Steve Grunow

Each November the Church celebrates the Solemnity of All Saints. The saints are the great heroes of our faith. The Church describes a saint as a person of “heroic virtue.”

This means that while many Christians might be willing to settle for lackluster accomplishments as disciples, the saints engage their relationship with the Lord Jesus with vigorous creativity and absolute dedication. Most often, the work of the saints will go unnoticed and unseen.

Saints are not celebrities, and those saints who capture the attention of the world, view that renown as the imposition of a cross. Most saints will disappear into the mission of the Church.

Unseen work continues

The work of the saints is not completed with their deaths. The saints know better than most Christians that life here in this world is not merely an end in itself, but a means by which God prepares us for a greater and more important mission in heaven.

No one who is in heaven is indolent. Heaven is not a place of indifference to this world, but one of interaction and intercession. The saints continue their mission as disciples of the Lord Jesus, supporting and sustaining the Church, acting to help and support all the baptized.

This year the first scripture from All Saints’ Mass was an excerpt from the New Testament Book of Revelation.

The Book of Revelation is one of the most mysterious, complex, and misunderstood books of the Bible.

The common impression is that the Book of Revelation is about the end of the world, and as such, people are often terrified by its content.

But, properly understood, the Book of Revelation is not simply frightening, but reassuring, as it foresees the victory of God in Christ over all the dark powers, worldly and otherworldly that oppose him.

The Book of Revelation is not simply about the end of the world, but the beginning of a new world in which the great enemies of God, and therefore the enemies of humanity, are defeated by the power of God in Christ. These enemies are sin, death, and the devil.

Opposing dark powers

The conflict between the dark powers of sin, death, and the devil has consequences for the Church as she engages her mission in the world. The Church is opposed as Christ was opposed. The Church suffers as Christ suffered. And in all this, the saints are on the front lines of the battle.

When the Church celebrates the saints, it would be good for us to remember, that what is demanded of us as followers of the Lord Jesus is often times far less than what it demanded of others.

Our identity is revealed

If we are not compelled by circumstances to die for our faith in Christ, are we willing to live for it? If our sacrifice is not to be that of a martyr, what is the sacrifice we will offer?

Consider the First Letter of John, in which the evangelist articulates an important insight about our identity as Christians. We are not as Christians merely members of a faith-based social club or a cultural association. What are we then? The evangelist John tells us: we are the children of God.

What happens when a Christian is baptized is that person is chosen as Christ to be like him—a person is chosen by Christ to be a saint. That’s what Baptism is all about. Being a Christian is about being chosen by Christ to be a saint. “You have not chosen Christ, he has chosen you!”

Recall that the Lord Jesus presents what are known as “the beatitudes,” a proclamation of those who are truly blessed by God and who enjoy God’s favor. In worldly terms the blessing of God, the favor of God, is many times construed in categories of worldly success— prosperity,wealth, talent, good looks, power, and prestige — or the exemption from the harder facts of human existence.

Living the beatitudes

Christ the Lord upends these kinds of expectations, and declares that the blessing of God and the favor of God is given, not to those who have the most, but those who have the least; not to those whom the world esteems as successful, but to those who seem to the world to have failed; not to those who have power, but to those who seem to have no power at all; not to those whom the world considers to be significant or influential, but to those who go mostly unnoticed and unappreciated.

In other words, in his beatitudes, God in Christ announces a revolution!

In this light, consider the decisions you have made about your life. Have these decisions made you a person whose life looks like the life described in the beatitudes?

Consider the people with whom you associate and whom you esteem. Are these people like the people described in the beatitudes? Do our decisions make of us men and women of the beatitudes?

Fr. Steve Grunow is CEO of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. Learn more at