- Fr. John Jennings
Being Saints for Our World and Times
Saints are a valued part of our Catholic Church tradition. They can be found in our Creed where we proclaim our belief in the “communion of saints”. To express this belief is to assert that we live in fellowship with those who have died and gone before us. Their good continues to touch us all in our personal and in our community lives. In fact, our Creed calls us to something even bigger, more surprising. We are to be a community of saints.
We might have many images of saints. Often, we see them as perfect (or nearly so), as pious and prayerful, as persons who have lived lives of strong spirituality, as individuals who were so good that they seem beyond our capacities. This image seems so removed from our own lives. And frequently we regard saints as turning their backs on the world. Quite the opposite.
Being a saint is living the Spirit in the midst of our world and what is going on around us. Being a saint is responding with love and compassion to the challenges of our world today. In every age, there are challenges that call for a Spirit of loving compassion and a willingness to life-giving action. The saint in us and among us arises in the responses to these challenges, in every age and place.
In Matthew’s Gospel, the writer has Jesus relating a number of stories or parables to describe what the reign of God is like. The proclamation of that the reign is present and near is at the core of Jesus’s message. The parables of the Reign of God are efforts to help us recognize that presence. In chapter 13, Jesus tells several short parables of simple human activity and experiences. In one of them he tells of seeds sown among weeds in a field, in another he relates the way leaven/yeast mixed into the flour affects all of the bread. (Matt.13:24-30, 33)
The “communion of saints” is not limited to those who have died and gone before us. Their good is not just an outreach from the past. They are the models for our present and the hope for our future. And saints are all around us. In the midst of our world and our own times, we sow the seeds of the reign of God on the “good soil” and the bad. With the Spirit of Jesus, we are called to sow everywhere, in all times and circumstances. The saint does not turn their back on the world, but walks amid the world to reflecting the Spirit of Jesus to all. Then we are becoming saints for one another, and the reign of God is building among us. Who are my own saints, today?