SEEKING THE SAINTS IN A SECULAR SOCIETY
Sanctity and sainthood always appear to be somewhat removed from our lives. We place saints on pedestals and we view holiness as other-worldly. Most of those we identify as saints seem to be heroic figures, pious and perfect persons. We give them an aura of what we would call “holiness”. But this is a “holiness” that takes them far from the life experiences that any one of us has.
In reality, the saints we honour are more like us than we think. And that “holiness” is only lived out among the moments of our human life. True holiness is really not removed from life, but is actually living a fully human life in our world, with its joys and its sorrows, its successes and its failures. Such a life is a gift of God. It is a truly holy life.
Perhaps it is better to speak of saintly moments rather than saintly lives. None of us can see ourselves as living saintly lives. There are just too many occasions when we would judge that we do not measure up. But certainly we can discover moments, many moments of saintliness in the lives of every one of us. And this is no small thing.
This Thursday, November 1 is the Feast of All Saints (the day after Halloween). What an opportunity to reflect on the saintly moments of all saints, including ourselves and those with whom we live. No, we cannot always see them, but such saintly moments are part of every life. And it is important that we seek and discover them all around us.
This Sunday, we hear a story from Mark’s Gospel (Mk.10:46-52). The story tells of a blind beggar who comes to Jesus and calls on him to have mercy that he may regain his sight. Some disciples attempted to discourage the person, telling him to “be quiet”. He did not give up, but called more loudly. Jesus heard him, called out to him and healed him. The beggar became a disciple of Jesus from that moment.
This was a saintly moment, a moment the openness and mercy of Jesus expressed holiness. The faith and determination of the blind person expressed a deep holiness in dependency. He relied on Jesus and regained his physical sight. This holy and healing moment also gave him new sight. He became a disciple.
The healing experience also touched those around Jesus. Initially they had tried to block the blind person from bothering Jesus, well meaning, but not helpful. Once they heard Jesus calling him, they stepped back and in fact helped to call the person. This was a holy moment for them as well.
These holy moments were experiences of the loving touch of God’s love. This touch was expressed in Jesus’s openness to draw the blind person close. It was shown in the faith and determination of the blind person in need. As well we can recognize such a holy moment in the change of heart that led others to change their attitude from blocking the person to assisting and encouraging him.
The holiness of sainthood touches our lives when we seek to bring mercy, love and forgiveness to others. This sainthood is expressed in our desire to bring peace to every relationship – whether to our closest friends or to strangers on the other side of the world. Holiness and sainthood are experienced in every caring, compassionate reaching out to another human being.
Seeking and finding the saints in our world means recognizing that in the many saintly moments of our own lives and the lives of others we come to see a holiness of life in the midst of our lived reality. It is to discover that we are indeed, all us called to sainthood, not just in the future but in the here and now of our world.
Who are the saints in my life? When have I been a saint for another?