Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Australia’s first saint?

The Vatican has all but proclaimed Mary MacKillop to be Australia’s first saint. We congratulate our Roman Catholic friends on this recognition of the accomplishments of a remarkable woman and her potential elevation to her Church’s “hall of fame”. It makes a pleasant change from the incessant focus on our sporting heroes. I don’t even quibble with this use of the word “saint” as many Protestants do. Words mean what people use them to mean and it is churlish of Protestants to claim that we alone have the true definition of a “saint” just because some English Bibles use this word as a translation of hagios, applied in the NT to all followers of the Lord Jesus, while we use different words for our “worthies”. Words are capable of more than one meaning, of broader and narrower definitions, and we regularly use words in senses other than their NT uses.

What is curious is the way the media have on the whole suspended their usual healthy questioning — regarding her alleged miraculous posthumous activity. Disturbing, at least at the level of folk religion, if not the official Roman Catholic position, is the attribution of the miraculous cures to Mary, rather than Mary’s God. All prayer other than that directed to God in the name of Christ, is misplaced. Sadly, I fear we are in for a rather confused time as superstitious popular corruptions supplant Biblical truth in the guise of honouring a great Australian woman. We might have opportunity gently to point people to the one in whom true healing is to be found.