“Who are these dressed in white robes, and where did they come from?” Revelation 7:13 (CEV)
We often think of saints as those who have lived a very pious life, who exemplified living a life in Christ, who have gone to heaven and are now wearing white robes, shining their halos, and sprouting large wings. A saint certainly can be someone who lived a life of piety and was always in close connection with God, and there are other kinds of saints, too.
In Paul’s letters to the churches he started around the Mediterranean Sea, he often started with: “To all the saints in . . .” as he addressed the faithful worshipers in that city or area. That would indicate that saints are far more than those who have gone on before us (although people who have been a strong influence on our spiritual lives and who are no longer living can certainly be included with saints.) I’m sure we can all name people who are special to us, whether living or dead.
Think about the “saints” in your life: a Sunday school teacher, an aunt or uncle, your parents or grandparents, an older person in the church who listens to you and cares about you, people who are there for you to pray, support, encourage, and lift you up, and most of all, those who bring the presence of Christ to you.
My maternal grandmother died when I was in my senior year of college back in the 1970’s, and she had a strong influence on my spiritual life. She didn’t talk a lot. She loved her home and her seven children and twenty-three grandchildren. Her family was her life. Her church was important to her, and she was active in the church as much as she could be. I’m not sure I was totally aware of her influence until years after she was gone, and now as I reflect on her life, I realize that she lived her faith visibly. Maybe I have given her sainthood in my own mind, and that’s all right (even though she would be the first to deny it.)
Living saints in my life are far too numerous to list, and most of them would be shocked that I had put their name on the list. My husband, my parents, some of my friends, and countless parishioners would top the list. They aren’t perfect, and I’m sure I’ve been quite able to list their faults (along with my own). What they are is consistent in sharing God’s love with me in a wide variety of ways. They are the ones who keep me accountable, teach me patience, love me even when I’m not very lovable, and accept me for who I am even though I don’t deserve it. They are the ones who get me through the hard times and celebrate with me in the joyful times.
The question I have to ask myself is: Am I a saint to someone else? I’m not sure it’s something we can plan to do – it just happens. It happens because we are living out the teachings of Jesus, living the way God has called us to live, being who God has helped us to be, and becoming who God is helping us to become. We are God’s beloved children who just ARE. We are given the gift of love which intended to be shared with others, and we rarely know that we have made a difference because we are just who we are as God’s child.
That’s a saint. So, are you a saint? Are you living your faith, loving God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and your neighbor as yourself? If so, chances are you are definitely a saint to someone else! God bless you!