what is Christian sainthood? – a Lenten reflection

(or what I’ve learned from watching those who best, most faithfully have taught me the meaning of living)

Christian sainthood is no upward march to the higher, distant heights above the plane of our common mortality, but rather a downward spiral to the depths of the recognition of the universality of our wounded humankindness.

Saints do not walk ever apart from, but always with humankind – all of humankind.

Sainthood is evidenced in the capacity to see in every human face – from the most beatific to the most brutally hideous – one’s own face.

And in seeing, then serving others – all others – believing, knowing that one’s very own self is being enlarged, ennobled in the process.

This, for me, is what it means to take up one’s cross and follow Jesus.

2 thoughts on “what is Christian sainthood? – a Lenten reflection

  1. I’m looking forward to more of these lessons during Lent Paul because I learned a lot from this one and that warmed my heart! Sainthood (Capital S) always seemed so lofty to me, unattainable actually. But you really shared some aspects of sainthood I hadn’t thought about. It’s good to know that saints should be able to see “one’s own face” (warts and all) in every face. Sometimes when we see what we would term beautiful people our own self-esteem may be impacted or worse, envy overtakes us. On the opposite end of the spectrum if we feel we are more beautiful than others, we may treat people as being beneath us. Neither of those two things are desirable. So it’s encouraging that sainthood appears to put us all on the same playing field to some degree. And it seems to me that what you’ve shared is great criteria for taking up the cross and following Jesus!


  2. Thanks, Loretta. Your response reminds me of MLK’s sermon “Drum Major Instinct” in which he preaches about that/our human desire to be out in front of everyone else, when, rather the genius of Jesus’ teaching of being first in God’s kingdom has to do with serving others, which all of us can do. Jesus, according to MLK (and I agree!) made being first (in our serving others) available and accessible to all. So, I believe, with sainthood.


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