August 2, 2017 – The Communion of Saints

This morning the discussion was all about Saints and our connection with them, the Communion of Saints. The Wikipedia article on the subject seems to be accurate on Catholic teaching and explains how some other groups see it differently. I think that we need to understand these differences to be faithful and informed defenders of the Catholic faith. Check it out.

A strong Biblical case for Catholic teaching on Saints is Hebrews 12:1.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us[b] and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. – Hebrews 12:1

That first word is important. I remember some decades ago hearing a pastor advise that when we see the word “therefore” in the Bible, we need to try to figure out what it is there for. That is excellent advice for Hebrews 12:1, especially since the challenging word is the first in the chapter.

So, we go back to Hebrews 11 to find out what the word “therefore” is “there for.” Hebrews 11 is a review of the “Faith of the Ancients,” members of that “cloud of witnesses, the Old Testament characters Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab the harlot! Yes, she is there also.

The writer says he has no time to mention Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the Prophets. (Surely, he didn’t have a deadline to meet.) It is a beautiful passage, “among the most eloquent and lofty to be found in the Bible,” according to the footnote in my Catholic Study Bible. I recommend reading the passage and the footnotes here.

One jewel in the footnotes is the statement that this theme is introduced earlier in Hebrews 6:11-12.

11 We earnestly desire each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of hope until the end, 12 so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who, through faith and patience, are inheriting the promises.[e

So, just as the early Christians were to look at the lives of the Ancients for examples to imitate, we also can look to them and to the Saints of the Church as well.

Note: There are other NT passages that review the faith and practice of the OT leaders of Israel. Acts 7, the testimony of Stephen just prior to his stoning, is a great read.

 

One thought on “August 2, 2017 – The Communion of Saints

  1. wneglia

    Great summary, Darryl. Another good biblical reference is the one Tom alluded to in Revelation 8:4: “And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel”.

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    Reply

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