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Saints: God’s Joyful Followers

John Gooch

Saints are people whose lives radiate such joy that people can’t help but follow Christ because of them.

 

Let all things their Creator bless,
and worship him in humbleness,
O praise ye! Alleluia!
Praise, Praise the Father,
praise the Son,
and praise the Spirit, Three in One!
O praise ye! O praise ye!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
—Francis of Assisi

St Francis Ftr TSP 146870652My all-time favorite saint is FRANCIS OF ASSISI (1181-1226). Francis is perhaps best known for preaching to the birds, which not only marks him as a pioneering ecologist, but reminds us of the joy and love for God expressed by all God’s creatures. St. Francis was also the first to recreate the birth of Christ, staging a live nativity scene (with real animals!) in a cave on the hill-side overlooking Assisi. His entire life was one of the joy because of all the gifts God has given humanity. In his great hymn, “Canticle to Brother Sun,” he calls all of creation to lift their voices in praise to God.

BROTHER GILES was a friend and disciple of St. Francis. He was one of those happy souls who moves through life finding joy and love in everything that happens. Brother Giles was especially concerned for the poor and gave away everything he could get his hands on. Once he was left to watch the church while the sacristan went to get some food. A poor woman came asking for help. Brother Giles had nothing to give her, but he noticed the silver bells tied to the fringes of the altar cloth. He cut off the bells gave them to the woman. When he was chastised, he replied that the bells were worthless extras in the church, but of great value for the hungry woman. Because Giles was always giving away his clothes to people who had nothing, he was forbidden by his superiors to do this ever again. Later he met a poor man in rags, who asked him for warm clothes. Giles told the man that he was forbidden, under holy obedience, to give away his clothes; however, he would stand still and not resist if the man wanted to pull his clothes off. Giles went back to the friary in his underwear, delighted that he had been able to help someone in need.

OLYMPIAS (361-408) was a strong mined, independent woman—a kind of early holy activist. Though wealthy, she was committed to using her wealth for the benefit of the poor. In fact, she was so generous that her pastor warned her not to give her money away so freely, but to be responsible in her stewardship. She organized and financed a convent, an orphanage, and a hospital. She was described as “a wonderful woman . . . like a precious vase filled with the Holy Spirit.” When John Chrysostom, whom she loved dearly, was sent into exile, it is said that her friends literally had to tear her from his feet. She, too, was persecuted for her faith and died because of her sufferings.

 

DIG DEEPER

Read Philemon, verses 4-7. Make a list of the saints you have encountered — those persons who lives show forth the love and joy of God. They don’t have to be “famous” people. More likely, they are persons in your church or school or neighborhood whose lives say to you that being a Christian involves a life of love and joy and wonder. Give thanks for each one!

John Gooch , a writer and consultant in youth ministry, loves to play with model trains in his spare time.

—from devozine (November/December 1996). Copyright © 1996 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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