We encase our saints in stone-carved sarcophagi under glass altars with romantic lighting and roses as a final garnish on the meal we think we want under glass. We seem to look around for saints and kings and queens. We long for great visions of saintliness, piety, power and holiness. We want miracles every bit as much as the people who followed Jesus around Galilee and Jerusalem. We tut tut at their simple grasping at healings and visible signs of wonders; and yet we want them too- secretly we want them every bit as much. We want to be sure that God exists by some miracle or by some saint whose greatness we can name as proof. So we build structures, churches, cathedrals, tall wooden chairs, titles, high vaulted ceilings, embroidered brocade – trying, trying so hard to manufacture Glory when Glory is uncreated and always has been.
The funny thing is that the saints I know are mostly humans. They tend not even to be clergy. They tend simply to be faithful people who do small acts of Glory-weaving. The saints I know make dinner for tired, homeless women on a monday night. The saints I know lend courage to ecclesial ego-busters. The saints I know would never, in a million years even think for one moment that they are saints. They would shy away from any sign that the church hangs onto people to indicate that they are special or powerful. The saints I know are scattered throughout the nave when we are making our way to the altar. They shimmer when our eyes light on them but they themselves see no such shimmer. And their saintliness usually comes, ironically enough, from their suffering and not from their devotional practice; from their begging of God’s mercy and not their invoking of God’s quotations; from their longings and their questions, not from their convictions and their intellectual confidence.
You are one of those saints. I am too. “All Saints” is called that for a reason. The great task is not in becoming a saint. The great task is in acknowledging that you are one- and then living out of that power. When that happens, there will be world peace. Quite literally.