“I don’t want to be an anti, against anybody. I simply want to be the builder of a great affirmation: the affirmation of God, who loves us and who wants to save us.” These are the words of Arch Bishop Oscar Romero who was canonized as a Saint on October 15th. I have come to know his life and work through my teaching with Duke Divinity School in El Salvador as well as through the life and experiences of Jose Luis, who is from El Salvador.
In the Catholic Church, there are many qualifications to be recognized as a saint. You have to have been dead for at least five years. You must become a servant of the Lord. You must live a life of “heroic virtue”. Lastly, you must have performed a miracle. Although many of these qualifications are important for many modern-day saints the most important qualification is that one lived a life of “heroic virtue.” Often times people cannot draw to mind the miracle performed by Mother Teresa or Oscar Romero, but they can recite quotes they said, quotes that were not simply spoken but lived out in a heroic way.
For United Methodist, we celebrate All Saints Day and acknowledge many who have gone before us as saints. In particular, we remember all who have passed away and gone onto glory over the past year or past few years.
As we come upon Pie Sunday (where we all bring pies to church and spend time talking about our church and our financial state), I am reminded of one of our saints, Larry Ligon. Larry made the best pecan pies using the best pecans that came from Opal Winebrenner’s family farm. Larry did not only make great pies but he loved God and this world with all that he had and all that he was.
This week as we begin our pie theme we focus on the scripture, Mark 12:38-41. This is where a scholar asks Jesus which commandment is most important. Jesus tells him, “Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as your self.”
When I think about those who have gone before and “canonize” them as saints I think about this verse. Saints, both alive and dead, know the most important thing in life is to love God with all that we are and love our neighbor as ourselves.
This week as we have many priorities and many tasks may we focus all of them on loving God and one another. May we be “anti-nobody” as Oscar Romero might say and may we be about the work of great affirmation of God’s love….knowing that when we do a small piece of heaven is found on earth.
See you on Sunday!