The Mystery of the Saints: On the Sunday of All Saints

Archpriest Viacheslav Reznikov

Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father Which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before My Father Which is in heaven…

He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me…

Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last shall be first

(Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30).

For the world, the life and struggles of the saints are an unfathomable mystery. The world grows perplexed when it reads about people who had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented… they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth [Hebrews 11:36-38]. The world asks: “Why is this necessary? Why such fanaticism?”

Indeed, there is a certain mystery to the saints that needs to be solved if one is to understand their remarkable steadfastness and fidelity. Today’s Gospel reading offers the key to this mystery in just a few words:Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess also before My Father Which is in heaven. And also: He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after Me, is not worthy of Me. This is essentially the whole mystery.

Those whom we call saints are quite simply those who accepted Jesus Christ not as an “ideal,” nor as a “principle,” nor as an “energy,” but rather as a real Person. They chose Him and were not afraid to enter the society of those who regarded Him either as nothing or as something vague and indefinite. Thereafter, whenever someone said “make a choice: me or Christ,” they unhesitatingly chose Christ. Therefore, Christ also confesses them before the Heavenly Father. Therefore, He grants them both strength and patience. Therefore, when the time for the Final and Dread Judgment arrives, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, they will also sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

The Lord was then speaking only about the Apostles, since they were then His only disciples. Later the Apostle Paul would say that the saints shall judge the world, and not simply the twelve tribes of Israel (1 Corinthians 6:2).

The judgment of the saints will consist simply in Christ being there. They who chose Him, following Him in His dishonor, will be there. They who did not choose Him – who were disdainful, ashamed, and afraid – will also be there. There He will be, with His Heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit, and the holy angels. All glory, all might, all love. Everything, in fact, that He has always been. That is the whole judgment.

Glory to the longsuffering God, that we still have time for repentance! The saints have already made their choice, but we are still wavering. The saints have already arrived, but we are still on our way. The saints have already attained full uprightness, but we are still falling and getting up, getting up and falling again…

But, being compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses… let us run with patience the race that is set before us [Hebrews 12:1].

Translated from the Russian.

You might also like:

Sermon on All Saints Suday by Fr. Ambrose Young

What Makes a Person a Saint? by Fr. John McCuen

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