Believing In Jesus Is Believing In Ourselves
Thoughts on the Second Reading by Joe Frankenfield
The Feast of All Saints
1 John 3:1-3
“Hey, look; I’m no saint. What do you expect from me?” The person sitting across the room from me wasn’t asking a question. He was telling me to stop making observations that put him on the spot. We both laughed and relaxed but, eventually, the issue became unavoidable: not what I expected of him but what he expected of himself.
To life as well as Jesus lived is uncommon but not unheard of. It’s not easy but it’s not impossible either. The point of Jesus’ life isn’t that he’s better than anyone before or since. The point is that he most powerfully revealed God’s love for us and most clearly demonstrated what we humans are capable of.
John’s gospel quotes Jesus, “Anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.” This is the central focus of Jesus’ teaching: God’s love frees us to actually love the life God is offering to humanity.
Our countless failures, our dumbness, our cussedness makes such optimism hard to swallow. That’s why we’re more comfortable believing things about Jesus that we are believing Jesus. But the issue for Christians isn’t believing strange and unusual things, it’s living strange, unusual lives with an eye to such lives eventually becoming accepted and ordinary everywhere.
The point of honoring saints isn’t to put their pictures on the walls and occasionally mutter “Wow!” as we walk past them. It’s to acknowledge that their lives demonstrate what we’re all capable of. It’s to strengthen our own dreams of the persons we can be. It’s to open our visions to the scene of a world full of saints: a world full of ordinary people living justly and lovingly on a planet finally at peace.
To have such a vision and live it is to have the Spirit of Christ.