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‘What God wants most is that you should become holy’

“There is something I very much want to say to you. I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the 21st century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy.”

With these words Pope Benedict, speaking at Twickenham on September 17, invited our young people to sanctity. The feast of All Saints is both a celebration of the sanctity already achieved in the lives of so many, and also an invitation to grow in the holiness that the Holy Father proposed to our young people.

Pope Benedict continued to question our young people so as to clarify what sanctity might mean in their lives. He asked the young people, and through them ourselves, what kind of people they wanted to become. He went on to urge them to the virtue they most admired in their contemporaries. On this feast of All Saints let us have the courage to say that we want to become saints, that we want to live the life of Christ that has won for us in his death and resurrection.

The Book of Revelation, with its triumphant imagery of the saints gathered around the throne of the Lamb, is a road map for saints in the making. It was addressed to people like ourselves, those who struggled from day to day to live out Christ’s invitation to come follow him. Revelation’s vision, in all its magnificence, bids us raise our eyes above the ordinary and the everyday. The Christ who calls us to live our lives for him in daily life, calls us to be with him forever. Christ, the victorious Lamb, has already won the sanctity for which we long. Sanctity is not beyond our reach or beyond our strength. Through baptism Christ is already in our hearts and on our lips.

The First Letter of St John addressed the natural diffidence that might be felt in those called to become saints. His starting point was not the seemingly impossible demands that might transform the reluctant sinner into a saint. He began with what the Father has already achieved within us through our baptism, a grace that we frequently neglect in our striving for sanctity. “Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children. My dear people, we are already the children of God.” We do not begin our journey into sanctity burdened by the sin and disappointment of the past. When we choose to turn to the Lord, we are already the children of God, well on the path to sanctity.

Pope Benedict reminded the young people at Twickenham that when they imitated the virtue of those they most admire they were already on the way. Christ proposed the same in the Sermon on the Mount. The timeless words of the Gospel speak so powerfully because they address something deep within us. We long to become the poor in Spirit, the gentle, the pure in heart, the peacemakers who hunger and thirst for what is right.

As we celebrate the saints who have gone before us let us also acknowledge the many hidden saints whose virtue has inspired us. Above all, let us acknowledge that the Father has numbered us among his children: saints in the making.