We often use the word SAINTS. We usually mean those who have lived particularly righteous lives, made extreme choices to follow their faith, those who have been martyred for their faith. Sometimes we refer to those faithful souls who have died and gone ahead of us.
In today’s readings, I would say that SAINTS refers to those who ‘seek after God.’ It’s a description that can work in today’s world, as well as historical contexts.
Being a SAINT is not an implication that such people are perfect. They’re not. People such as Mother Theresa, named a saint by the Catholic church, reveal the depth of their doubt and fear through their own writings. Writers such as St. John of the Cross, writing centuries ago, called the times when he grappled with isolation, depression, and despair as ‘the dark night of the soul.’
Wrestling with faith deepens it. It’s part of the human journey.
So don’t think that being a SAINT is about being perfect in deeds, words, thoughts or emotions. Humans simply cannot live perfect lives.
What we can do, in any circumstance, is ‘seek after God.’
In that seeking, we choose more often to reach for thoughts, feelings, and actions that bring us closer to God’s hopes for us. Those hopes are rooted in our personal, individual choices and deeds. Yet what starts with individuals flows into communities, systems, and impacts all of creation.
We become ‘saints.’ We’re not born that way. We learn this way of being. We put it to work. We practice ‘seeking after God.’
SAINTHOOD is a measure of a lifespan comprised of small moments. And we won’t always be at our best. Nobody ever is.
Even Jesus got angry or impatient: at fig trees, at markets in the temple, at his followers, at a woman he called a dog. He got tired and needed respite from crowds. He asked for the cup to be taken from him, when he wrestled with his own darkness, in the Garden of Gethsemane. Yet he struggled with those moments and grew as a person, and became a more gentle and compassionate human.
When are you pressed by fear, doubt, anxiety, sorrow, depression, anger? Those are the times when it may be most difficult to seek after God, yet that’s precisely when the practice of being connected to God, to faith, becomes most vital. Even if it seems like an empty exercise, because you’re down in the pit of despair, it’s the time to call out, to pray, to turn your mind and heart to God.
‘Seeking after God’ isn’t a brief moment. It’s a lifestyle choice. It’s a constant, daily practice. It’s a way of being. When we live by ‘seeking after God’ we are in the state of becoming saints.
Excerpts from today’s lectionary passages:
Psalm 53: 2 — God looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
Revelation 19: 3b — “Praise our God, all you his servants, and all who fear him, small and great.”
Revelation 19: 7b – …for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.