1. It has been almost fifteen years since Pope John Paul II died,
a. And we witnessed the spectacle of millions of people streaming into Rome,
b. Many without accommodations or even food, to attend his funeral.
2. During the funeral, thousands of these people held signs aloft for TV audiences all over the world.
3. They said simply “Santo Subito!” – Sainthood Now!
a. They were calling for the immediate proclamation of John Paul as a Saint.
4. OF course things don’t usually move so quickly.
a. To become an official saint of the Roman Catholic Church,
i. the kind we honor on this all Saints Day
b. requires exhaustive research,
c. Two miracles said to have occurred due to the intercession of the saint in question
d. And most importantly time to see if this person will truly prove to be a worthy role model for the Catholic faithful.
5. But the crowds that day didn’t care about the Church’s procedure in canonizing John Paul;
a. whether or not the Church decided he was a saint;
b. in their minds, God already had.
6. The whole spectacle of John Paul’s funeral riveted the world for days;
a. commentators said that such simply do not happen anymore.
b. But of course they are wrong.
c. They happen all the time;
7. For we regularly canonize people.
a. Sometimes with spectacular Funerals –
i. who can forget the outpouring of grief at the funeral of Princess Diana? –
b. Sometimes simply with the attention we pay to them,-
i. For what young person does not want to be a sports star like Serena Williams
ii. a Rock Star like Beyonce
iii. or any one of the rich powerful people
1. whose lives fill the magazines at our checkout counters
2. and are the stuff of endless reports on Entertainment Tonight?
iv. We don’t care what they do in their private life
v. They don’t need a careful investigation;
vi. They do not need the Church to declare them saints;
vii. as far as we are concerned, they already are.
8. Strange; a world where John Paul could share the stage with the like of a Beyonce;
9. Perhaps all that we really require for someone to be our stars, our role models, our saints is that they be popular in the eyes of others;
10. And it is that popularity that canonizes.
11. But while that may be true for us; it wasn’t true for Jesus.
12. Oh sure, Jesus was popular; especially at the beginning of his ministry.
13. In today’s Gospel he is surrounded by people, hanging on his every word.
14. If he lived nowadays, that crowd would be filled with reporters, with paparazzi, and with countless groupies all hanging on his every word.
15. Especially today. For today Jesus was going to reveal something truly important.
16. He was going to reveal the source of his sanctity;
a. Not just so people would know how he did it; but so that others could do it too.
17. And then he began.
a. How do we become blessed? How do we become saints?
i. Be poor rather than rich
ii. mourn your losses rather than ignore them
iii. be meek rather than arrogant
iv. Hunger and thirst for righteousness rather than self-righteousness
v. Show mercy rather than wreak revenge
vi. Be clean of heart rather than have lives full of dirty laundry
vii. Work for peace rather than vote for war
viii. Suffer some persecution yourselves rather than persecute others
b. Do THESE things Jesus says and the kingdom of heaven will be yours;
i. you will be saints; you will be blessed.
18. When Jesus was done you could probably have heard crickets.
a. For blessedness was about riches and wealth
b. sainthood about power and popularity
c. But what Jesus was advocating was exactly the opposite!
19. Exactly. Because Jesus knew what we in our fascination with fame and love of riches are blind to; That
i. One day Serena will no longer be able to wow us on the court
ii. One day Beyonce’s body will sag and her voice crack with age;
b. Jesus knew that the things that we think important in others’ lives;
i. the things that we want to be part of our own lives;
ii. they are precisely the things that fail.
c. And thus Jesus knew that it was only when they are taken from us,
d. or we let go of them willingly,
e. that there is finally room in our lives for things like humility, forgiveness, peacemaking and a concern for justice.
i. All these things force us to look at others,
1. rather than just at ourselves;
ii. they create relationships rather than groupies;
iii. They might not make stars, but according to Jesus they are what make us saints.
20. Needless to say Rome did not make John Paul II a saint right away –
a. that was in part to keep with tradition;
b. but also because we recognize that the Church does not make saints God does;
c. all the Church does is officially recognize that fact.
21. And if John Paul was made a saint it was not because thousands of people said he should be
22. But because the Church recognized in him those things that Jesus said make for sainthood.
23. Things that you don’t have to have – Simply to do.
24. and when we do do them; well then saints are not simply the ones on the official list we honor today; but are what Saint Paul so often said they were; God’s faithful people – in short; us.