‘Be a Saint’

One my favorite hymns of the church declares:

Rejoice in God’s saints, today and all days!
A world without saints forgets how to praise.
Their faith in acquiring the habit of prayer,
their depth of adoring, Lord help us to share.” 

Rejoice in those saints, unpraised and unknown,
Who bear someone’s cross or shoulder their own.
They shame our complaining, our comforts, our cares.
What patience in caring, what courage is theirs!

Rejoice in God’s saints, today and all days!
A world without saints forgets how to praise.
In loving, in living they prove it is true.
The way of self-giving, Lord, leads us to you.” 

(by Rev. Fred Pratt Green, Book of Hymns, #708)

This week Pope Francis formally canonized Mother Teresa at St. Peter’s Square. She was the tireless worker from the Sisters of Charity, who worked with the dying poor of Kolkata. Her ministry, which began in 1950 with 12 sisters, now runs 758 homes and hospices in 139 countries around the world.  (theguardian.com, Harriet Sherwood, Sept. 4, 2016)

The contemporary world has known this fearless voice for justice and Nobel Peace Prize recipient for many decades.  At her passing in 1997 we looked to her witness and ministry as a model of true Christianity.

The office of “saint” that was conferred upon her this week is the result of a particular process that is a part of Roman Catholicism. However, in a more generic sense all who are in Christ Jesus can be called “saints.”

The Greek word for “saint” is “hagios,” and it denotes one who is holy, sacred and set apart by God and for God. (Strong’s Concordance).  In many of his epistles Paul refers to the church members as “saints.”  Ephesians 1:1 states, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus, by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus.”

You don’t need to be formally canonized to be a living saint today. Saints are set apart to be humble servants of Christ.  There is plenty of room in the servants’ quarters.

Most of the time we would rather be seated at the table and have someone serve us. Sometimes we erringly think that we have to do some great work for God, but as Mother Teresa was quoted to say, we simply need to do “small things with great love.”

Small things are the humble acts of service that often mean the unpleasant work, the unlovely and sacrificial things of life.  We are set apart for that and if more of us who claim to be followers of Christ would embrace this “downward mobility” stance there is no telling what our churches and our lives would become. We might even be the embodiment of the “good news for the poor” that Jesus came to bring (Luke 4:18).

When we do these small things with great love God gets the glory and praise, and we have amazing joy.  So, be a saint!  Teach the world how to praise, pray and serve, all for God.

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