I am uncomfortable with the idea of saints. Hearing the word saint conjures up images of serious-looking people dressed in robes with huge golden halos encircling their heads. Saints stand taller than us; they’re different from us, possessing gifts we cannot hope to call our own and achieving things we cannot ever hope to attain. Strange as it may seem, however, Jesus’ most famous sermon may help us appreciate the saint that is in us all.
The sermon resembles Matthew’s Sermon on the Mount. In Luke, however, Jesus does not preach from on “high.” He does not preach in the third person: “Blessed are the poor, . . . the mourning,” and so on. In Luke, Jesus speaks from a level place. He sits among the suffering as a healer and a herald of good news. He speaks in the second person, as we do when we look someone right in the eye: “Blessed are you who are poor.” In Matthew, Jesus seems to speak abstractly. In Luke, Jesus speaks as someone who takes the people’s pain upon himself. He moves among them, talks with them, touches them. He stands on level ground with them.
That is what saints are: People who stand on level ground with those who are hurting, look them in the eye, and have the audacity to tell them they are blessed. Saints bring blessing to people by taking them seriously and tending to their needs. Saints are those who by word and deed dare to take sides because they believe that God sides with love and mercy. May we do to others as we would have them do to us. Saints alive!
Holy God, may we have the audacity to stand with the poor, the hungry, and those who weep. Amen.