Pope Recognizes Miracle Needed to Declare Mother Teresa a Saint

The following quote is taken from an article entitled “Pope Recognizes Miracle Needed to Declare Mother Teresa a Saint” that recently appeared mother teresain “Catholic News Service” dated December 18, 2015.  “Pope Francis has approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, thus paving the way for her canonization.  Pope Francis signed the decree for Blessed Teresa’s cause and advanced three other sainthood causes Dec. 17, the Vatican announced.”  The article later goes on to say “St. John Paul II had made an exception to the usual canonization process in Mother Teresa’s case by allowing her sainthood cause to be opened without waiting the usual five years after a candidate’s death. He beatified her in 2003. (The entire article can be found at http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2015/pope-recognizes-miracle-needed-to-declare-mother-teresa-a-saint.cfm)

            One can’t help but wonder how someone such as the pope can be such a well recognized religious leader and yet be so unlearned in the scriptures.  The headline of the article states that the pope has recognized a miracle that was needed to declare mother Teresa a saint.  Those familiar with the scriptures understand that the time of miracles has ceased.  (See I Corinthians 13:8-13, but that’s a discussion for another day.)

            For now, let’s consider that “Pope Francis” sees the miracle as a vital part of the process of declaring Mother Teresa a saint and that St. John Paul II had made an exception to the usual canonization process by allowing Mother Teresa’s  cause to be opened without waiting the usual five years after a candidate’s death.

            Is a person a saint only after someone else declares him to be a saint?  Does someone become a saint only after he has been dead for a sufficient length of time?  As with every other question of similar nature, let’s go to the scriptures for our answer.

            In Acts 19:3, Ananias stated that he had heard of how Saul had “done much evil to the saints at Jerusalem.”  Had Saul done much evil to those at Jerusalem who had already died?  Of course not!  The saints at Jerusalem were people who were very much alive at the time Paul had done evil unto them.  In Acts 9:32 Peter came down to the saints which dwelt at Lydda.  Did Peter come to those who had already died?  No!  They too were very much alive.  Acts 26:10 tells us that Paul had put many of the saints in prison and later put them to death.  Did Paul put people in prison who had already died?  Obviously not!  He put live people in prison.  It was only later that he had them put to death.  In Romans 12:13 Paul wrote of “distributing to the necessity of the saints.”  Was Paul talking about taking care of the needs of those who had already died?  Of course not.  In Romans 15:5 Paul wrote of ministering unto the saints and in Romans 15:26 he wrote of a contribution that was made for the saints.  In II Corinthians 1:1 Paul addressed his letter to all the saints that were at Achaia.  Many, many other examples can be given but certainly these should be sufficient.

            Numerous times the scriptures use the term “saints” to refer to Christians who were very much alive at the time.  Who then, is a saint?  The Bible uses the term saint to simply refer to anyone who is a Christian (Philippians 4:21-22).  II Thessalonians 1:10 described God’s saints as “them that believed.”  Unlike the pope, the scriptures do not limit this designation to someone who is of “exceptional holiness” or to someone who has died, having lived a life of exceptional acts that qualify him to be a saint.

            Greek lexicons are in unanimous agreement that the word “saint” simply refers to someone who has been sanctified, or set apart, from the world.  This sanctification, or setting apart, takes place when a person obeys the simple gospel of Christ. This obedience consists of a person hearing and believing the gospel of Christ (Romans 10:17, Mark 16:16), repenting of his sins (Acts 17:30), confessing his faith in Jesus Christ as his savior (Romans 10:9-10).  Notice, though, that a person is not saved at the time of his confession.  Romans 10:10 teaches that with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.  A person who confesses his faith in Christ is heading in the direction of his salvation, but he is not there yet.  A person receives his salvation, and thus becomes a saint (sanctified by the blood of Christ) when he is baptized in order to receive the forgiveness of his sins (Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16).

            Because I am a Christian, I am a saint.  I am sanctified, or set apart from the world, by the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:10, 14, 29).  I don’t have to die to become a saint.  I am already a saint while alive on this earth.  I am a saint, not because the pope has affirmed it to be so, but because Christ has affirmed it to be so through his gospel.

Lessons From a Severed Head

Most of us are familiar with the record of David and Goliath recorded for us in I Samuel the seventeenth chapter.  The Philistines were gathered on a mountain overloDavid and Goliathoking a valley.  Their enemy, the Israelites, were gathered on a mountain on the opposite side of the valley.  Goliath, a giant from the Philistines, taunted the Israelites.  He told the Israelites that if they had a man who would kill him the Philistines would be servants to the Israelites.  The Israelites became afraid at Goliath’s words.

When a young boy named David took food to the Israelites, he heard Goliath’s challenge to the Israelites.  David killed Goliath.  What David did next serves as one of the greatest object lessons of all time!  David cut off Goliath’s head.  A gruesome sight?  No doubt.  Repulsive?  Maybe.  But watch what happens next! David then took Goliath’s head to Jerusalem.  Why was it so important for David to take Goliath’s head to Jerusalem?  What purpose could this possibly serve? He wanted the Jebusites (who occupied Jerusalem at the time) to learn a lesson from what they saw.

Goliath’s head serves as an object lesson for us today.  It teaches us that those who defy God will eventually be defeated (I Samuel 17:26).   It teaches us that there is no limit to what we can accomplish when we overcome our fears (I Samuel 17:32).  It teaches us that the same God who provided us with past victories will provide us with future victories (I Samuel 34-37).  It teaches us that things that at first appear small and insignificant become great and powerful when we trust in God (I Samuel 17:49-50).

Today, I am thankful for the lessons I can earn from David and his victory over Goliath!

Heaven Will Surely Be Worth It All

The apostle Paul, because of his unwavering faith in our savior Jesus Christ, was severely persecuted by those who were so adamantly opposed to the Heavengospel. He was beaten with rods and was stoned.  He suffered shipwreck three time
s and was frequently imprisoned.  He suffered pain, hunger and nakedness (II Corinthians 11:23-27).

Yet notice how Paul described his persecution when writing to the church at Corinth.  “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;  While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seenare temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

It’s not possible to read these verses without two words jumping out at you, grabbing you by the collar and demanding your attention – light affliction!  How could Paul possibly describe his beatings, stonings, imprisonment, pain, and hunger as light affliction?  Paul is painting an obvious contrast between his temporary life on this earth and his eternal life in heaven.  While he describes his affliction as light, he describes the glory of heaven as weighty.  Paul knew his affliction was but for a moment – temporary, while the glory of heaven is eternal.  Paul knew any suffering he experienced on earth because of his faith in the gospel would pale in comparison to the blessing of eternity in heaven.

Friends, this is true for us also!  No sensible person would deny that life on this earth has its difficulties and trying times.  But whatever they may be, any difficulties we experience while on earth will pale in comparison to the blessing of an eternity in heaven.

Today, I will ask God to carry me through any difficulties I may face, knowing that heaven will surely be worth it all!