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What would make you call someone a saint? (5 November 2017)

1 John 3.1–3
Matthew 5.1–12

I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying. — Nelson Mandela, 1999 speech at the Baker Institute, Rice University, Houston

In the lives of the saints, we see in our own time the qualities that make life possible. — Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year


Last Thursday, 1 November, was All Saints’ Day. So today, we’re hearing the readings for All Saints’ Day. On this day, we celebrate women and men who have been examples of faithful and joy-filled service for us who are still on the pilgrim way.

What would make you call someone a saint?

Now, some of you may remind me that every single Christian is a saint. A saint is someone who is called to be holy. The Apostle Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth — in other words, to the whole congregation. Some of them were living in pretty ethically dodgy ways. But Paul called them saints.

However: today, I’m using the word ‘saint’ in its everyday sense. In an ordinary way. In everyday terms, a saint is someone in whom we see something of the goodness of God. Someone who has some quality of love, or compassion, or faithfulness, or patience that we recognise taps into a very deep well.

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