In Heaven by Grace (A Reflection by Fr. Ogoe on the Solemnity of All Saints)

There is no substitute for the grace of God. Thanks to the grace of God the humanly impossible becomes possible. Left to our human resources alone no one can please God. To be holy means to please God in all things. And no one can please God unless the grace of God is actively at work in him. The celebration of All the Saints – in heaven- (officially canonized or not) is a celebration of the triumph of God’s supernatural grace in the lives of countless men and women down the centuries. The simple message is that the grace of God prevails over our human frailty and sins, if only we welcome the gift of God’s salvation in Christ Jesus. In other words, if only we dispose ourselves, the grace of God will touch and transform us into holy and glorious sons of God. That is what the celebration of All Saints is about.

To celebrate the Saints means to celebrate the saving action of God in each person who opens himself to Christ. St. Paul experienced firsthand the transforming and saving power of God’s grace. With joy and thanksgiving in his heart, he boldly proclaimed: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been ineffective. Indeed, I have toiled harder than all of them; not I, however, but the grace of God that is with me” (1Cor. 15:10). It is by the grace of God that the Saints are where they are today. The life of each of them is a providential manifestation of what the grace of God can accomplish in us if we open the door of our heart to God and do not resist him. The forces of sin cannot overcome the light of God’s grace. Scripture says: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5). The light of God’s grace can break through the thickest darkness. For St. Paul, this is too real. The grace of God is the one and only effective antidote to the power of sin. Once grace takes root in us, transformation begins, and this transformation culminates in our being welcomed to the City of the Most High God.

Today, what St. Paul says of himself can be said of every saint (known and unknown). All the saints are what they are by the grace of God. No one is a saint by his own strength and wisdom. St. Augustine is what he is by the grace of God.  St. Bhakita is what she is by the grace of God. All the men and women we celebrate are what they are by the grace of God. It takes the grace of God to enter the eternal gates of heaven. Christ has won for us this saving grace. Nothing, therefore, can shake the confidence of those who count on the grace of God, because we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (cf. Heb. 12:1).  The saints are living witnesses of the triumph of God’s grace.

More than fifteen centuries after St. Paul, Charles Wesley commemorated the first anniversary of his conversion. The sheer joy of having being touched by the grace of God led him to write: 
O for a thousand tongues to sing

my great Redeemer’s praise,

the glories of my God and King,

the triumphs of his grace!

“The triumphs of his grace” indeed! As we celebrate the saints who are already in heaven, it is important also to celebrate here below the saving action of God’s grace in us. We can also proclaim that we are what we are by the grace of God; and we shall be where the saints are by the grace of God. This is our confidence. This is our faith. No matter the ups and downs that may mark our Christian journey, let us always remember that the grace of God will triumph if we do not give up. God is faithful, and if we trust in him, he will do marvelous things with us. God takes delight in his people – in his saints (cf. Psalm 149:4), and he takes delight in us even now. Let us raise to him a resounding song of praise as each one of us declares with St. Paul: “I am what I am by the grace of God”. And let us confidently add: “We shall also be in heaven by the grace of God”.

Invitation to pray:

Dear Lord Jesus, you are my song and my salvation. Thank you for all your holy ones in heaven and on earth. Cleanse me in your Precious Blood. Send your Holy Spirit upon me. I believe that I am saved by your grace, and by your grace all things are possible. By your grace, let me see you in heaven when the race is over. Thank you Lord, and may you be exalted forever in all your saints! Amen!


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