Sunday, 6 November 2016

For all the saints

Who are our saints?  Each year we celebrate and commemorate the festival of All Saints on the first of November but who are the saints that we are celebrating?  I suspect that most of us will look back through his/her-story and suggest the many heroes of the faith that are recognised by all of us, the St George's and the Mother Theresa's, the recognisably good people.  Those whom we have elevated into a semblance of sainthood because of their good deeds or their martyrdom for their faith.  Each and every country I am sure have these figures that are elevated above the normal.  Yet, all of these have their saint's days, days on which we celebrate their lives, yes sometimes clumsily all con-joined on the one day in some fashion but each individually recognised.

In the early church it was recognised that those who followed in Christ's footsteps where the 'saints' (Phil. 1.1 and elsewhere). So where are all the saints of today, they are the ones who are part of the Body of Christ worshipping this day in love and celebrating the saints not realising that is ourselves that we celebrate.  It is the ones who persevere in their faith journey and hold up the light of Christ to the community in which they live who are being celebrated this day, not the rich and famous but the low and infamous. Luke's gospel in some ways highlights this in his version of the Beatitudes (Lk. 6.20-31), which praises the lowly and brings shame on the mighty.  No matter how we read this passage it perhaps highlights for us the pros and cons of our own attitudes and how we need to go about being the incarnation of the saints down through the ages today.

Let all the saints add their voice of truth and disrupt the comfortable.

This twisted passage that seems to heap damnation on those who have it and bring blessings on those who have nothing is an elementary lesson in comportment for us as modern saints.  It is when we are rich with the world's luxuries that we forget who we are and who we are committed to becoming.  Our happiness becomes but a fleeting joy to be dashed away by the first hint of difference and misunderstanding within our relationships.  It is rather when we are in need of others attention, the love of others, the relationship that slips our grasp that we come close to enjoying God's presence.  This is because we become attentive to those around us, we listen to their story and we form our relationship as they walk beside us and we become part of them. When we are at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs we are comfortable, well fed and enjoy our extra time to indulge our senses and our sensibilities.  In doing so in our age, for that matter any age, we forget that their are others in need and it is only when we are confronted by the necessity to forage for ourselves that we become aware of desperation in others.  We are not well equipped to be thrown out of our well paying jobs and our good lifestyles.  We are unable to form relationships that aid us and fulfil us while struggling to fulfill our needs.  Is this not what we have become as a worshipping community, ones who have been cast out to fend for themselves within a wider world that is fighting for its community?  Those who have struggled to feed themselves and others are those that form community around themselves and help others on their upward journey.

This twisted reversal is best seen perhaps in the last of the 'blessings' / 'curses' (Lk. 6.22-23, 26). These lines remind us that as truth sayers into our communities we will be derided and abused.  Those who are comfortable and well off wish only to hear the soothing things not the disruptive words of truth.  We need only look at the Climate change debate, it is those who sow platitudes who are held up but the truth sayers are the ones who are brow beaten into submission and closed own.  Or even the immigration issue.  We are comfortable when we hear words of comfort but woe betide those who tell the disruptive truth for this we will crucify them.  We asked to bear Christ's cross wit him and we cannot do that if we believe the convenient truths rather than the disruptive call of God.

No comments: