Some of the great saints of the church have taught us correct theology and true worship. Some of the great saints have sacrificed their lives for others. Some of the great saints have been brutally tortured and executed for being a follower of Jesus the Christ. What kind of a saint do you hope to become? I ask this question as we all wonder how great our faith is. Of course we reflect upon our failures and laziness as we stand in the midst of these mighty saints and all that they have offered but sometimes forget the little things in life we do or need to be doing.
Today the first church remembers the death and very vaguely the life of one saint from many years ago, Saint Tabitha of Joppa. Saint Tabitha did not teach, she did not challenge the heathens with her great knowledge, she was not tortured for her faith; she simply lived day by day sewing, giving alms. And so it was that when she died the woman of the village wept. And when Apostle Peter came to see he heard of her great almsgiving and saw the widows weeping for their great loss and he said: “Tabitha, rise up.” And she opened her eyes. [Acts 9:40] She was no doubt, well loved! She helped others by using what talent she had for God’s glory, the glory of loving by helping others. She took time to make time for others!
My grandmother Hazel was also a good seamstress and she took time to help others. As a young boy I remember my grandmother telling me I needed to fix my holes in my jeans before they became unusable. She would say: “A stitch in time, saves nine!” Repairing the little holes and tears would prevent larger holes that would need a more lengthy repair or cause the garment to need to be discarded, beyond repair! My clothes were filled with patches and I did not see them as identifying me as poor boy, but as a hard worker who was tough on his clothes. Growing up poor, repairing clothes was necessary. So in this, we all know how much St. Tabitha helped those poor folks in the village of Joppa who could not afford new garments.
As far as helping others, I usually plan my day and know which things I want to get done. Each day for me is a task of finishing my list with my talents and not letting my hands be idle. This usually gives me a bit of tunnel vision and I sometimes miss the helpers God sends my way to help me with my list or to divert my efforts to another task that may be a greater need than the ones I had planned myself. Maybe by allowing a diversion I would be sewing a stitch in time that would save us from an enormous failure or obstacle later on.
The church wants us all to become saints! That is why she teaches us how to pray, how to fast, how to love God’s creation more than ourselves. We hear again and again the great teachings of Christ and all these things are stitches holding our garment of salvation together. And when we fail, as we all do, more stitches of confession are necessary as we mend our wounds, closing the hole of the evil ones opportunity that would deem us useless, beyond repair. And it is preciously this that our Lord is the greatest seamstress of all in that His love can mend and repair the greatest of rips and tears we have allowed in our garment. Those wounds that we think have made us disposable and unwanted when repaired with His touch are as good as new, ready to return to work in His vineyard.
Becoming a saint is not always about the big things so much as it is about being willing to stitch up our rips and tears every time we fall, and helping each other with their mending instead of ripping them to shreds. A great saint is one with many patches and repairs on their garment, which is exactly what faith is. You must believe that God loves you so much that He is waiting to help you fix your shredded and torn garment. Rise up from the death of sin and stitch on. Christ Is Risen!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 5-19-2019