St. Matthew's Episcopal

Making Saints

Posted on: March 14th, 2012 by Robin Jarrell

It’s not just the bishop of Rome who has the privilege of bringing the historical lives of holy people to the attention of the world.  If I remember correctly, nigh onto almost a decade, my bishop enjoined me when I was first made a priest to “equip the saints for the work of ministry….”

Equip the saints.  “Saint” meaning those baptized and soon to be baptized who were given to my care.  My mission (and I have chosen gratefully to accept it):  give ‘em the stuff they need to do what they are called to do.  Love them, nurture them.  Care for them.  Love them.  Again, I say:  Love them.  So now you may notice probably the one and only thing Pope Benedict XVI and I (at this particular point in time, Insha Allah) have in common:  the joyful task of birthing saints who have already come into the world.

I got the idea when I was puzzling out what I should “do,” (or not “do”) for Lent.  As it happened, Ash Wednesday followed close on the heels of my birthday – and as I have always had a fondness for my own “birthday” saint (Absalom Jones, first African-American priest), I thought that all the younger ones at St. Matthew’s would be delighted to rejoice in their birthday saints, too.

And so it came to pass that I made it my Lenten discipline to ascertain the birthdays of as many younger St. Mattheans as I could find (and some “older” younger St. Mattheans) and make Saint/Prayer cards for them to keep.

I already expect what each of them will probably say when I hand over a bright, laminated, saint card with the same celebration date as their own birthday:  “But, Mother Robin, this Saint is NOTHING LIKE ME.”

Oh, I can hear it now:  “I’m a girl, this saint is an old man.”  “I’m not Asian!”  “He’s wearing a funny hat.”  “Can’t you get me a better one?”  Or, my own lament in finding out who my birthday saint is:  “But, he’s got dark skin!  I’m a white woman!”

Except, that in the Body of Christ, we have the grace, the gift, the Spirit, to be that very Saint.  I wonder if, upon research and reflection,  we might find that we have much in common with our birthday saint.   Not that our task is to conform to some pie-in-the-sky notion of what being a Saint means.  But perhaps our journey is to join with those who have been our ancestors in the faith – to discover through study, prayer, partaking of the Eucharist, and being a part of a Christian community, that we have so much more in common with the Saints than we realize.  And when we do realize how much in common we have with the Saints, we are nearer to being those very saints God calls all of us to be.



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