Updated: Oct 16, 2019
1)For those of us who spent the summer here, one of the biggest changes in the parish was the installation of air conditioning.
2)It not only changed how the church felt, but how it looks.
3)The risers for the air conditioning have provided us with an opportunity to create shrines along the walls of the church.
4)Already people have begun to make suggestions for the saints that will be honored in those shrines.
5)And one name that keeps coming up is that of Mother Theresa.
6)IT makes sense,
7)She was recently canonized, and many of us remember her when she was alive.
8)Since her canonization
9)We have begun to ser her images everywhere, in plaster and paint,
i) helping people,
ii)caring for the poor.
iii) clothed in her simple blue and white sari,
10) Familiar except for now her head in those images sports a golden halo.
11) we know that that halo is just an artistic convention,
12) And that Mother Theresa’s real holiness is found,
a) not in the what shines around her head but what shone through her life
i) Her care for the poor
ii)Her work on behalf of families
iii) Her faith in God,
b) All of which propelled her into projects that no one thought would succeed.
c)All of which caused us to see her as
i) more than a woman,
ii)more than a nun;
iii) but as a saint
(1) Someone whose life offers us a glimpse of the person God wants us to be.
d) But then in 2007 that book was published
(1) containing excerpts from her diaries and personal papers
e)calledCome Be My Light
f) It revealed a woman who is not some plaster saint
g)But flesh and blood
i) Drowning in spiritual darkness and doubt.
13) For some this was a welcome revelation
i) For they could never believe that Mother Theresa,
ii)was as perfect as people said she was.
14) However, for others, this was an unwelcome shock
a)Because for them SAINT Theresa of Calcutta,
i) clothed in a sari and a halo,
b) Had become for them an image of God’s presence in this world
i) And that image
ii)had been challenged by her own words.
15) And thus, this challenges
a)not only our image of Mother Teresa
b) but also our image of sainthood itself.
16) And yet if that is only now happening to us
a)After everything we have seen in the Church of late,
b) Well then, we must not have been paying much attention to Jesus,
i) who challenged that image regularly.
17) The image we have of Jesus is very much like that we have of Mother Teresa
i) A person,
(1) Wrapped in robes and crowned with a halo,
(2) whose life reveals the best and highest values
(a) of the family, the community the world
(3) in short reveals God,
(a) and the way God wants us all to be.
18) And yet, the question begs to be asked; if he was so good,
(a) Why did so many people hate him?
(2) Maybe because he said as he does in today’s gospel,
(i) That his followers hate their families
1.Rather than support their traditional values
(ii) His followers renounce their possessions
1.Rather than rely on the family resources for their security.
(iii) That His followers are not “pro-life”
a.At least when it comes to their own lives,
2.But are willing to hate their lives by carrying crosses,
a.The symbol of that death so disgraceful
i. that the Romans who dreamt it up reserved it for their greatest criminals.
(iv) His followers do not act on blind faith,
1.But cannily weigh the possibilities and recognize their resources before they commit to a plan of action.
(b) IN short people who follow Jesus might be disciples
(i) But at least as far as we are concerned, they were no saints.
b) And yet if Jesus sets himself against
i) Many of the things such as family,
(1) that we think are holy
c)It is not because he wishes to destroy them
i) But because he wishes to redefine them
d) Not because he wishes to discredit holiness and Sainthood,
i) But because he wishes to relocate it.
19) in Jesus’ day,
a)families were your health insurance, your life insurance, your pension, your police force,
i) they were what formed you to be a good, holy member of Gods people
b) They were what you trusted, often blindly, for your security.
c)They were what you owed your life to in return.
20) Thus if people were ever to hear his invitation
a) to become part of his newfamily,
b) A family redefined,
c) where since there is only one father,
i) all are mothers and sisters and brothers of his;
d) A family where all are challenged to be holy
i) by challenging the presumptions
(1) of those who think they know what holiness is,
21) Then he had to challenge the traditional family values of his day,
i) so that we might begin to see in the people whom those values rejected
(1) the spark of holiness
(2) The sign of God’s presence
(3) And God’s invitation to serve them
(4) and in that way follow Jesus
(5) Knowing just what it will cost.
22) Mother Theresa was one of these people,
23) And that is why her name has been mentioned by so many.
24) But you know, if I could choose, you know who I would choose?
a)A new Yorker. One whose church I pastored for seven years and whose community remains near and dear to my heart: Dorothy Day.
25) Dorothy Day was a woman who challenged the standards of polite Catholic society in her day,
a)by redefining holiness as service of the poor
b) and relocating sainthood in the lives of those she served.
26) While she has been proposed for sainthood as well,
27) She has not yet been canonized
28) And I am told, by some people, including members of her own family,
a)That they oppose any formal cause for canonization,
29) I don’t know why.
a)Maybe they realize that a formal cause would begin to reshape her life’s story into something more in accord with accepted standards of holiness
i) And thus transform her once and for all into a statue, an image a holy icon,
(a) Something to be looked at, admired, but never known.
b) Maybe because they remember Dorothy Day herself saying,
i) when asked if she ever wanted to canonized,
(1) Never – She would never want to be dismissed so easily.
30) But maybe it is simply because they realize that it is not necessary;
i) Because according to Jesus, in her flesh and blood life of discipleship of service, she already is – a saint.
ii)And maybe it is when
iii) we follow her
iv) and Mother Theresa
v)and all the others, as they followed Jesus,
(a) and we see in those whom our society rejects, the presence of God
(b) And see in serving them, the service of God
vi) That we are saints too.