What is a “saint” (Greek: agios = holy person = sanctus :Latin). We need to remember that the word saint and holy are actually the same words. The Holy Spirit and Saint John could equally be written as the Saint Spirit and the Holy John. When we use the two different words in English – saint and holy – we lose completely the connection between these two words. Holy God = Saint God. The Saints = The Holy Ones. Holy Communion = Saint Communion. The Communion of the Saints = the Communion of the Holy Ones. Holy Things for the Holy (Ones) = Saint Things for the Saints. Holy Spirit = Saint Spirit.
Jesus did not live, die and resurrect just to make saints in heaven. He did this to make saints on earth too! His life, death and resurrection sanctifies the present, us, now, we. His life and resurrection transfigure and transform living people not heavenly ghosts.
Pentecost – the outpouring of the Holy Spirit – does not just create saints in the distant heavenly kingdom. The gifts of the Spirit are distributed now on earth in the church.
The saints are the sign of God’s gifts, presence, salvation, kingdom – here and now!
The saints in their life times are the fruit of the Spirit. The first fruit of the resurrection.
The Resurrection without the Saints who followed, is just like any myth of the pagan gods. It is the existence of the Saints who confirm and prove the power of the Resurrection to transform and transfigure this world and not just some mythical heaven.
The 1st Vespers reading for All Saints Sunday is from Isaiah 43:9-14 and includes these words:
“You are My witnesses,” says the Lord … I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses,” Says the Lord, “that I am God.”
The Saints – their lives, deeds, miracles, teachings, accomplishments – witness to the power of the Holy God in their lives, in this world, in the past and in the present. Their witness is not just to the future Kingdom of Heaven, pie in the sky. They lived and live in the same world we live in. And in their lives they chose to follow Christ, to imitate Him, to change their lives because of Him, to admit their sins, and to live for Him, and die for Him. Their martyrdoms (Greek: martyr = witness) witness to whom and for whom they lived.
In this world, our world, they acknowledged Christ in their lives. They witnessed to Him, and Jesus said in heaven He will acknowledge them (Matthew 10:32-33). But before they were concerned about heaven, they were concerned about how they lived in this world.
And they showed in their lives what their priorities were. They loved not only their families, but loved even more their Lord. However much love they had for family and each other, they loved Christ even more. (Matthew 10:37).
Then Peter said in reply, “Look, we have left everything and followed you. What then will we have?” [Matthew 19:27]
Peter is not speaking literally about having left everything. Note that in John 21:1-6, after the resurrection, Peter decides to go fishing and other disciples join him. Obviously he/they still have a boat and a fishing net! The “leaving of everything” has a figurative and spiritual meaning. St. Paul clearly mentions the other apostles having wives (1 Corinthians 9:5) – again and obviously they have not literally left everything. But they have re-prioritized their lives, and nothing is as important as following Christ, and everything they have becomes used in following Christ, and for godly purpose. They really are laying aside personal claim to all that they have and saying “all we have comes from God, is to be used for godly purposes, and is not my personal possession to be withheld form God.” (See Acts 5:1-11 where Ananias and Sapphira did not understand this apostolic principle).
But before the Saints have any inheritance in heaven, they have to live life in this world, in the time of their own lives, because this world is important to God – it is after all the world He loves and is saving. It is not abandoning the things of this world, which gets us into heaven, but understanding how all things in this world are given to us for godly purposes, and when we treat all the things of this world as God’s things, holy things, then in the world to come we will be given even more. (Matthew 19:29).