“Life holds only one tragedy, ultimately: not to have been a saint.”
There are the famous saints: Nicholas, Francis, Patrick. The Apostolic saints: Mathew. Mark, Luke, and John. Some saints are angels like Saint Michael the Archangel. Some are in the elevated echelons of the clergy like Pope Saint Gregory the Great. Others, like Saint Marcella, were life-long lay people. Some are women like Saint Mary, some were even virgins like Saint Beuve. But even if you are not a virgin, a pope, or an archangel you can still be a saint.
In the broadest sense, anyone who is making some kind of effort
to follow the ways of God is a saint.
If you go to church this Sunday you will probably sing a song called I Sing a Song of The Saints of God. The song was written by Lesbia Scott who sang it for her children. In the song, she says that the saints were patient and brave and true, some were shepherds or doctors or soldiers. One even got eaten by a great wild beast! But all of them were saints. The song ends with the words, “…and I mean to be one too.”
But, aside from granting ourselves the title Saint, what does it really mean? It’s got to be about more than singing children’s songs and celebrating a mass. The writer of 2 Peter tells us that as saints we become partakers in the divine nature. Having run away from excess desiring and the ways of the world we start to take on the qualities of divinity. The Gospel of Luke says that the saints are equal to angels! Think about that for a minute. And it says that we are Sons of God. So, it is starting to sound like sainthood is more than just being doctors, shepherds, and soldiers.
Saints are the ones who continue the work of Jesus.
More than anything else, Jesus is what we can see of God. Sure, he’s not here now; but we have stories about his life, we know what he did, what he taught, and what ultimately happened to him. He is the visible image of the invisible God. It is the saints – that is, you and me – who are to continue the work of showing God to the world.
In these days when we are so broken by violence, unrelenting violent talk from our leaders and violent actions from those who follow them, it is more vital than ever that we take up Jesus’ mantle of tikkun olam… the healing of the world. The world needs to see God.
Being a saint doesn’t have anything to do with what you believe, or your manner of life. It’s not about doing things the right way, or being on one path or another. Even being eaten by a great wild beast is not a sure-fire mark of sainthood. It’s about becoming so identified with the divine nature that you are able to show the world what God is like.
This week when you are out fighting for justice, voting, marching, writing letters, praying… whatever you’re called to do to heal the world, what does the world see? Can they see God? Because that’s the work of sainthood… To continue the work of Jesus, to be the God that people can see.
Linda McMillan is struggling to be the person her dog believes she is. Still failing.
Some Notes of Possible Interest
Charles Péguey was a French writer. I do not know much about him, but you can read the Wiki article here.
The writer of 2 Peter could have been anybody but was probably not Peter the Apostle.
2 Peter 1:4… Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. (NIV)
Luke 20:36... Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. (KJV)
Colossians 1:15… The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. (NIV)