What is a saint? And, what does it matter?
This week we are remembering St Jude and St Simon, apostles of Christ. That is Judas the son of James, sometimes called Thaddeus, as opposed to the other Judas, Judas Iscariot, and Simon
the Zealot rather than Simon Peter. Next week we celebrate and remember not only All Souls’ Day, a time when we fondly or commemoratively, remember the dead, but also All Saints Day,
where we remember and commemorate those saints who have gone before as well as those saints who walk among us.
So, let’s have a look at what, or who a saint is. In traditional Christian thought, a saint is often known as a ‘hallow’. It’s where we get the term ‘All Hallows’ eve, from. The night of the saints, or souls. October 31st, ‘All Hallows Eve’ refers to the night where the veil between life and death is thinner and God’s eternal life and kingdom is more accessible, or even for some, visible or tangible. These days, ‘All Hallows’ eve has been hijacked by Halloween, with negative and scary tones added to the traditional understanding of a ‘holy’, ‘thin’, or sacred place.
As for a person who is recognised as a saint, they are unusually a person who has or has lived a life with an exceptional degree of holiness. They can also be described as one with a particular closeness, or likeness to God. And depending on which Christian denomination you speak to, the term ‘saint’ also generally means, any believer who is ‘in Christ’ and in whom Christ dwells. In other words the term Saint could quite literally refer to any one of us, living or dead.
Largely people decree that saints and souls are not like the Halloween portent of the dead walking among us, or the ‘living dead’, or even the actual dead, but that saints are anyone who
believe in the good news of Christ and lives a godly, Christian life, even though they might fail. In fact human failure is almost a pre-requisite of sainthood; just look at our mate, Simon-Peter. If this disciple who constantly misunderstood Jesus teaching, got it wrong and was still worthy of sainthood, then most of us are too; we are in very good company.
The word Saint, originated within Christianity but over time, has been adopted or adapted by almost all other major religions in some form or another. These include Jewish, Islam, Hindu,
Rishi, Sikh, and at times, Buddhist. Depending on the religion, saints though are important historical figures which not only link us to our God, but to our human past.
But I guess, what I’d like to know is what does all this talk of Saints and souls mean for us in 2018?
Can you identify any living saints, among you?
Or can you recognise Christ’s sainthood within yourselves?
And, as we approach All Hallows’ Eve, can you remember the true meaning of that thin, sacred, holy place, where heaven and earth, touch and God is closer than before.
Have a great week,
Shalom (God’s deep abiding love and peace, be with you)
Donna (Vicar, St Peter’s Wynnum)