I hear it is official, Mary MacKillop is to be declared Australia's first saint (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10616660). Pope Benedict 16 is to declare this in March. This has been received with great joy in Australia. She certainly seems to have been an amazing women, healing lung cancer and leukaemia, a founder of the Catholic order of the Sisters of St Joseph in Penola, South Australia in the mid 1900's. She was a caring women, staying strong in the faith, helping people until her death. Apparently Garry McLean, who runs the Mary MacKillop Heritage Centre, is relieved that at long last Australia has a saint. He is on record as saying, 'it's fantastic for a country to have its first saint.'
Now I don't want to demean her legacy at all, she certainly deserves honour for her great achievements. Indeed, she most likely deserves her status as a saint. But the problem is, that the whole canonisation, saint-thing, stands in the face of the biblical definition of sainthood.
A saint is a 'holy one' (e.g. Phil 1:1). The term is used through the Greek OT (LXX) of God's holy people (e.g. Lev 11:44; 19:2, 37; 20:7; 21:7, 8; Num 6:5 (Nazirite); 16:7; Deut 7:6; 14:2, 21; Judg 16:17; 2 Kingdoms (Kings) 4:9; Hos 12:1; Is 30:19). It is used in the NT numerous times of believers (e.g. Acts 9:13; Rom 1:7; 15:24, 31; 1 Cor 1:2; 16:15; 2 Cor 1:1; Eph 1:1, 18; 3:5, 18; 5:3; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2, 26; 2 Thess 1:10; Heb 6:10; Jude 3; Rev 11:8). It is clear in these uses that all believers are saints. That is, one who has faith in God and Jesus for salvation and as Lord, is a saint. Sainthood is not the privilege of certain great Christians who perform miracles and serve well. It is the privilege of all.
To be a saint is to be a holy one, sanctified, consecrated to God, set apart, chosen. It means to be declared holy, so that one can live to be holy. From the least of God's people to the greatest (defined by the greatest servant), all believers are saints. So, Australia has had millions of saints since its inception. Even before the European came to the great land, those Aborigines who worshiped God by faith (cf. Abraham, Melchizedek), were saints (not by religion, but by faith). So, good for Mary MacKillop and the Australian Catholics, but it is misguided. There is no rank and status in the Kingdom, we are all God's people, all saints, if we name Jesus as Lord and saviour.
Saint Mark, Out.