St. Paul often begins his letters by addressing the “holy ones”, or the “saints” in the communities to which he is writing. When he does this, he is not singling out some particularly good people. He addresses all the people of the community that way. If he were writing to us, he would say, “To the holy ones living in St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Nashua.” We might feel somewhat uncomfortable with this greeting because we know we are far from being saints. But that is the point of his greeting, that is, we are all called to be saints. We are all called to be holy in the Lord Jesus. This is something for us to consider during this season of Lent. First of all, then, the blueprint for holiness is the beatitudes as taught by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. We must avoid causing harm, but we must also make poverty in spirit, mercy, justice, peacemaking and so forth a way of life. These values become the foundation and the measuring rod of all our choices, of all our activities. A saint is a friend of God who takes the beatitudes seriously in his or her life. We grow in friendship as we put forth our best efforts in the workplace, patiently raise our children, and build good relationships at home, at school and at work, striving always to live out the values taught by the Lord. Sainthood is not a call reserved only for the chosen few. It is the task of every Christian. Saints are not just eccentric men and women of former days who are out of touch with the real world. They are people who modeled for the world what God wanted the world to be. That often made them counter-cultural, but then the beatitudes are often countercultural, and we will become in some ways countercultural if, for example, we practice mercy rather than seek vengeance. The world today needs holy people to bring it back to sanity. Christ’s call to us is that He wants us to be those people.
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