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Friday, 9 September 2016

What is a "saint"?

As my wife and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary, the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta was being declared to be a saint, by Pope Francis.  Born in 1910 to ethnic Albanian parents, Agnese Gonxha Bojaxhiu grew up in what is now the Macedonian capital, Skopje, but was then part of the Ottoman Empire.  Aged 19, she joined the Irish order of Loreto and in 1929 was sent to India, where she taught at a school in Darjeeling under the name of Therese.  In 1946, she moved to Calcutta to help the destitute and, after a decade, set up a hospice and a home for abandoned children.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950. The sisterhood now has 4,500 nuns worldwide.

There have, of course, been critics of her canonisation - including the husband of one of the women to whose medical cure prayers to the Blessed Teresa have been attributed.  He, apparently, is not convinced!


Often, we hear it said of some person: "(S)He is a real saint!".  In my experience, this signifies only that the person to whom reference is being made is a kind-hearted, generous, helpful, kind of (wo)man.  

However, I too have been declared a saint!!!  Yes - on Feb 9th, 1960 I confessed my sins and sinfulness, and accepted the Lord Jesus as my Saviour and Lord: and I became a saint!  There was no ceremony at the Vatican.  There were no newspaper reports.  The "event" wasn't televised, and broadcast all around the world.  However, I am assured that there was great joy in heaven - maybe even a party! (see Lk.15:7).


You see, according to the New Testament, a saint is a disciple of Jesus.  One does not require to be "prayed to"; be held responsible for miraculous events; or be canonised by any group of men.  One does not even have to die, physically - being born again (spiritually) is the prime, and the only Biblical, requirement!  That is why Paul, in his letters, frequently refers to those to whom he is writing, as "saints".  "To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:" (I Cor 1:2; emphasis added).  "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colossae:" (Col 1:2; emphasis added).  The task, certainly, of "pastors and teachers", if not all of those to whom reference is made in the previous verse, is "... to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ," (Eph 4:12; emphasis added).


For the disciple of Jesus, being a saint is like being a witness.  There is no choice in the matter!  The only question is, "Am I a good saint; a good witness; or am I a bad one?!"  However, either way, my "sainthood" is assured!  It comes, not by my works or efforts, but wholly by the grace of God.

So, greetings from "St.Brian"!  However, while I am happy to pray for you (if requested): please do not pray to me!  As one of the Southern Country Gospel songs states: "I'm just an old sinner, saved by grace"!

Are you a saint?  If so, be a good one.  If not, I again commend my Saviour to you - and am always happy to provide any assistance I can if asked for it.  In the meantime, do scroll down to "My favourite links", where you will find some that may be of assistance to you.

Blessings, and shalom!

1 comment:

Aussie John said...

"I'm just an old sinner, saved by grace"!

And a saint to boot! Me too!
Great article! Much appreciated!

Aussiejohn