Of Lost Voicemails and Sainthood


By Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap.

When my father first purchased a cell phone, he wasn’t quite sure how to work it. He got through the basics: calling people and entering contacts. The real problem, however, was the voicemail. For some reason no matter how hard he tried,  (and no matter how hard his three technological-attuned sons tried) he couldn’t get it to receive messages all the time.

As a result, one of my younger brothers decided to take matters in his own hands and recorded this greeting:

Hi, you’ve reached Mark’s cell phone: maybe he’ll get your message, maybe he won’t.

So much for technology; so much for our lives being made easier. Instead of help, we just walked away frustrated.

We may experience a similar problem this All Saints’ Day: the “technology” of saints seems rather complicated. We find them painted on church walls, staring dispassionately at us from stained glass windows, and offering cold sympathy from the front of holy cards. Maybe we have our favorite saint: one whose intercession we seek on a regular basis. But we do so precisely because he or she is in heaven (far away from us) and able to do something that we cannot.

In reality, however, sainthood – holiness – isn’t something complicated. It’s not a technology beyond us. To be a saint –  to be one who is celebrated on this day – is not the result of some special knowledge, or even some heroic action.

Rather, it is Christ – and our relationship with him – that makes us saints. To be a saint is to be in relationship: relationship with Christ, and then, relationship with each other.

To know Jesus the Christ, to the know the faithful one – the one who was faithful to his Father in heaven despite betrayal, anger, gossip, foolishness, injustice, and even death – that is what makes us a saint

We know this Christ first of all through our baptism; we meet this Christ in the face of the poor; we consume – and are consumed – by this Christ in the Eucharist.

Because of this, we are the children of God of which John wrote in today’s second reading: we are God’s children right now. What Christ will make us in the future, we do not know.

What we do know, however, is that Christ calls us, greets us, and invites us to be saints.

Indeed, when we know Christ, there are no lost voicemails, no lost lives: rather, we know exactly where we’re going. When we know Christ, we’re going to be saints too.



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