18th August 2020
'a great cloud of witnesses'
Paul fills his letters with the importance of faith
and in Hebrews 11 he talks about some great men of faith,
Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph, Moses;
even women are included, Sarah and the prostitute Rahab.
It's an encouraging read.
He then continues chapter 12 with:
1 'Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders
and the sin that so easily entangles.
And let us run with perseverance
the race marked out for us,
2 fixing our eyes on Jesus,
the pioneer and perfecter of faith.'
- Hebrews 12:1,2a
'Therefore, since we are surrounded
by such a great cloud of witnesses,'
this phrase came to mind
as I was listening to this morning's
'Pray as you go' meditation.
The Catholics venerate the saints
and today is the feast day of St Alberto Hurtado.
I had never heard of him so decided
to refer to my friend of inexhaustible knowledge, Google.
Alberto was a Jesuit priest, lawyer, teacher,
social worker and writer,
from Chile who worked tirelessly
to bring justice to the poor;
founding hospices and shelters for the homeless.
I was particularly drawn to him
when it was suggested that he
could be said to be the patron saint of multi-taskers!
"he who gives himself grows ...
sacrificing what is mine, forgetting myself,
I acquire more value,
I am a more fulfilled human being.'
He died of cancer at the age of 51yrs in 1952
and was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.
During this pandemic, the plight of the marginalized
and underprivileged in our society
has been highlighted;
the elderly, poor, sick, homeless, refugees.
In Matthew 25:31-46 Jesus sets out clearly his feelings
about how we are to respond to those on the margins;
he aligns himself with them saying.
'Truly I tell you,
whatever you did for one of the least
of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.' - v40
According to Collins dictionary, a 'saint' is
someone who has died
and been officially recognized and honoured
by the Christian church because his or her life
was a perfect example of the way Christians should live.
Yet Paul opens his letters to the Ephesians,
Colossians and Corinthians by addressing
the faithful as 'saints'.
Paul calls the believers 'saints'
because in Christ they are made holy
due to Jesus' atoning sacrifice.
There is no need to await beatification
(sainthood achieved) as some believe.
It doesn't take ten or twenty or a hundred years.
If we have repented and trusted in Christ,
we are a saint of God today, right now!
Why would Paul declare to the believers
that they were saints at the time
that he was writing to them,
while they were still alive,
if it was only for the dead?
Many people think that the 'Saints'
are restricted to the past
but there are many living today.
Can we be recognised by the way we live our lives?