Between Sinner and Saint

Embed from Getty Images

When I was born, I suffered from a kidney disease that required emergency surgery. My father called down to the front desk of the hospital and asked them to send someone to have me baptized right away. When the receptionist asked “Which faith,” my dad wisely responded “Whoever gets here first.” And so it was that I was baptized by a Catholic priest who was double parked outside of Forbes Hospital in a hastily arranged ceremony.

My grandmother was also Catholic, so she was tickled pink about my inclusion in that faith. For as much as I have come to have some sharp theological differences with our Catholic brothers and sisters, I have always had a deep and abiding respect for their faith. My grandmother would frequently tell me the stories of the Saints, these larger than life people who lived a good life of faith, sort of the legends of the Christian church. These were the people I looked up to. These were the people I wanted to be.

And for many of us, these are the people that we imagine had halos around their heads 24/7 and could do no wrong. “You’re such a saint” is a comment usually made sarcastically, to remind us that in fact very few people rise to this office of holiness. Who could? Who could stand in the company of people like St. Francis of Assisi, or St. Patrick, or heavens, our own dear St. Nicholas?

And there’s the in between for today, isn’t it? You and I are probably all too aware of the fact that we stand somewhere between the sinner, the pedestrian, the average, the normal, and the Saint that God has called us to be. You and I probably know all too well that we read the commandments and desires of God as aspiration more than reality. We’re just not there yet.

It turns out that the first Christians were actually not called Christians for a little while. They were called the Haggias, which means the holy ones, or as we might say, the Saints. It turns out that it’s not our work that makes us holy, but in fact Christ’s work in us. Even now, even while we’re in-between the sinners we know too well and the saints we desire to be, Christ is hard at work on us, shaping us into the saints that he has chosen us to be.

So the in-between side is not so bad. It’s where Christ does his work on us. It’s where we are shaped into the people God has called us to be. Sometimes that’s a bit painful, as we stand in the gulf of who we are and who we want to be. But all the same, Christ meets us with his love and grace and affection, and helps us to find our way.

Thanks be to God!

blog comments powered by Disqus