To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.
1 Cor. 1:2 ESV
Who is a saint on All-Saints Day? Let’s break down each term.
Who is a saint? You are, if you have given your life to Christ receiving him both as your Savior and Lord.
What is a saint? A saint is not someone who is perfect, but a sinner who looks to Christ for life-transforming grace in their chronic weaknesses and on-going struggles. Saints are not those who perform adequately in the spiritual life, but are those who most available to the Holy Spirit’s gifts and power. Saints are needy, they know they cannot live the Christian life by their own energy and resources. Biblical saints look constantly to Christ for help. They know their need for Christ. True saints are not the most adequate, but the most desperate for Christ and his love.
What is All-Saints Day? All-Saints Day is celebrated every year on November First, a day set aside to honor those men and women of the past who trusted Christ though want, need, rejection, and persecution.
To be holy does not mean being superior to others: the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Death and Eternal Life
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
John 5:28-29 (NKJV)
The resurrection of the dead is the final work of God in applying Christ’s work on the Cross to our lives and to creation (1 Cor. 15:50-57). When Christ returns, he will raise from the dead the bodies of all believers who have died since the beginning of time (1 Thes. 4:15-18). Jesus will reunite these bodies with their souls (spirits) which have been residing in heaven (Phil. 1:21, Dan. 12:2-3). Also, He will change the bodies of all those believers who are alive, giving them glorified bodies. Therefore, all believers from all time will have perfect resurrection bodies just like their Savior. [Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 828].
So the message of the cemetery is manifold. It reminds us of death and of eternal life. But it speaks to us, also, precisely of our present, everyday life. It encourages us to think of what passes and what abides. It invites us not to lose sight of standards and the goal. It is not what we have that counts but rather what we are for God and for man. The cemetery invites us to live in such a way that we do not leave the communion of saints. It invites us to seek and to be in life what we can live in death and in eternity.
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “All Saints Day: At the Feet of Saint Peter’s Basilica”, Images of Hope: Meditations on Major Feasts (Ignatius Press, 2006).
HT: Ignatius Insight