31st October 2021
None of us are likely to call ourselves saints in the general sense, I guess. We remember the times we have been stupid, hurtful and selfish at the very least. But in a biblical sense, we are saints, all of us. Otherwise we wouldn’t be here. We’ve been called by God as Christians for one reason or another. For many, this is quite simply from upbringing and almost out of habit. For others, it’s having made a conscious decision at some point. We have been baptised, and we struggle on through life: with all our faults and failures, but with all our gifts and goodness, a mixture of bad and good, thankfully with good usually predominating.
Even the great saints of history weren’t perfect. Take St Peter, actually denying he knew Jesus outside the premises where Jesus was taken after his arrest. Take St Paul, with his anger and prejudices. And take
France’s two patron saints, Joan of Arc of the 15th century and St Teresa of Lisieux of the 19th century, both virtuous in their ways, but both with signs of mental instability. So the message of sainthood and All Saints’ is that God accepts us all as we are, warts and all. He is pleased to take us into his service, turn our weaknesses and idiosyncrasies to good effect, and make use of our smallest aptitudes. In the Bible, all the early Christians in a particular place are referred to as ‘the saints’.
There’s a story of a boy being taken to visit a church and being told who the figures were in the stained glass windows. As he told his parents about his visit later in the day, they asked him if he knew what saints were. He replied: ‘Of course I do: they’re people who let light through’. A brilliant definition, I think you’ll agree, and it refers to us in the great household of faith, the communion of saints, which we are celebrating today