Celebrate All Saints Day with compassion and truth

Published 9:54 am Friday, November 1, 2013

By the Rev. Mark Boorsma
Ascension Lutheran Church, Albert Lea

The first carnival mirrors I remember were in the funhouse at the old Excelsior Amusement Park. More recently, my family encountered carnival mirrors at the Minnesota State Fair. These curving full-length mirrors distort your image into long legs, a monstrous head, gangly arms or supersized torso — all to alter your image and make you laugh at your own reflection.

Images of the saints — called icons — serve as windows into heaven and glimpses into the great cloud of witnesses that have themselves been icons of faith in every generation. Today is All Saints Day, the Christian remembrance of saints and martyrs who have gone before us. The word “saint” has an unfortunate modern connotation of a perfect person, so that many people believe they have little in common with saints. But whether your definition of saint is one duly canonized as an exemplary Catholic, or, as the New Testament uses the word, as primarily a (still living) believer involved in a local congregation, saints of all sorts — even you — can provide a passing window into the realm of God.

The Apostle Paul points out that “now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we will see face to face.” Sins such as pride, lust or envy certainly dim and distort the image of God we were meant to reflect, and these distortions prompt us to laugh, cry or recoil with shame. Although we will fail to reflect a true image, we do see glimpses of beauty, compassion and truth that serve as windows or mirrors of the divine. We will never see ourselves as we really are so long as we only stare at our reflections through carnival mirrors.

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Even at its brightest and most glorious, the moon’s glow is not its own. The moon simply reflects the light of the sun. Maybe that’s what the best saints do — they simply reflect the light of the Son. On All Saints Day, may all the faithful who have gone before us hold their mirrors and windows at just the right angle to help us see Jesus.