At the mid-point of the Christmas season, there are no major saints’ days. So it is a good time to remember that there are no minor saints. If you are in Christ, that includes you.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:4-7)
He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:11-12)
It is no minor thing to be a child of God and to be seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We have each been adopted into God’s family. From that point on, we have the opportunity, as I quoted St Athanasius on the first day of Christmas, to become by grace what Jesus is by nature. He is reigning even now in heaven and has declared us to be reigning with Him. We have been commissioned to bring about His kingly rule on the earth, until His enemies are made His footstool. That is no small responsibility.
Saint – hagios in Greek – simply means a holy. The most basic definition is something that is separate from common condition and use. It is pure or righteous because God has separated it out. That is what God has done for me and for you. He has separated us out. He has dedicated us to His use. Our desire to be worthy of that use and to participating in our sanctification is a result of God saying, “You are special. You are mine.”
Being holy is also something in which we actively participate. It is a command. As Peter quotes from Leviticus 11:44, “…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’ ” (1 Peter 1:15-16)
There are saints who, because historical circumstance (through God’s Providence) has favored their remembrance, are known to the whole Church or the whole Western or Eastern parts of the Church, or smaller sectarian parts, or particularly in certain countries. They are the heroes of the Faith. It is good to commemorate them. It is to our own spiritual benefit, because they model various godly qualities.
Role models are important. As St Paul said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) The author of the book of Hebrews dedicated what would later be designated as the 11th chapter to those heroes of the Faith who would inspired his readers to look to Jesus, calling them “so great a cloud of witnesses.” (Hebrews 12:1)
But even if historical circumstance will not allow for you or me to be a role model to the whole Church across time, we have the opportunity to be a role model to everyone around us. God’s in His Providence has brought every person we meet across our path. He has created the circumstances of every relationship we have. (Or the number of blog readers we have.)
With the lack of emphasis on, and awareness of, the historical saints today, particularly in much of the Western Church, perhaps it is even more important that we step into our role. (Part of that role may be to raise awareness of those greater role models being forgotten.) We will always be the major saints to those around us around us.