This past week, the person we once affectionately called Mother Teresa was declared a saint by the leader of the Roman Catholic Church. Wow, how amazing to be declared a saint along with Peter, Paul, and John! Hey mom and dad, look at me now!
According to catholic.org, to be declared a saint in that church body:
“The local bishop investigates the candidate’s life and writings for heroic virtue (or martyrdom) and orthodoxy of doctrine. Then a panel of theologians at the Vatican evaluates the candidate. After approval by the panel and cardinals of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the pope proclaims the candidate “venerable.” The next step, beatification, requires evidence of one miracle (except in the case of martyrs). Since miracles are considered proof that the person is in heaven and can intercede for us, the miracle must take place after the candidate’s death and as a result of a specific petition to the candidate. When the pope proclaims the candidate beatified or “blessed,” the person can be venerated by a particular region or group of people with whom the person holds special importance. After one more miracle will the pope canonize the saint (this includes martyrs as well). The title of saint tells us that the person lived a holy life, is in heaven, and is to be honored by the universal Church. Canonization does not “make” a person a saint; it recognizes what God has already done.”
Basically, Teresa’s sainthood was determined after it was confirmed that someone received a miracle after asking Mother Teresa to ask God to make it so. She must be in heaven, right? Only saints can be in heaven.
It is good that that Church body puts people through a rigorous process in order to establish a certainty of sainthood, right? For such an extraordinary title, we want to be certain, right?
Well, there is another way to establish the certainty of sainthood: Jesus’ Word! “Saint” is an English translation of the Greek word meaning “righteous one.” And for sure, only righteous people can be in heaven!
Yet Paul says clearly in chapter three of his letter to the Romans,
“For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written:
‘None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.'”
So how does one become righteous? How does one become a Saint? Do they lead a good life? Or do they go above and beyond the requirements of the Law? What if they set up an orphanage in India?
Well, Paul makes it clear in the same chapter,
“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
It took the Vatican many years to determine whether or not Mother Teresa was a Saint. Yet, I am certain that I am a saint. I have a more certain word than Francis’. I have God’s Word. I have the Risen Son of God’s promise! I’m a saint—not because of what I have done or not done but because of what Jesus has done for me! No, if you look at me, you might not see the saint I am, though sometimes you may. But sometimes you might see a sinner. I repent. Still, my sainthood is certain because Jesus says so! I know He hears and answers my prayer because I am what He says I am: a child of God. I know I will stand before the Lord with Teresa, covered by the blood of Jesus.
O Lord, thank you for my sainthood, bought by the blood of Jesus! Help me to act like the saint I am. Help me to cling to your promises and keep me in the Faith until that glorious Feast never-ending. Are you a saint?