Sermon: St. Margaret of Scotland

In one of the parishes I attended prior to being ordained, there was a member who seemed to take joy in asking how others were doing; however, he was asking, not to determine there wellbeing, but so that he could rebuke their answer. What does that mean? If I ask you, “How are you?”, how will you respond? Most folks will say, “Good.” This particular member, applying Luke 18:19 would respond – every time! – “No one is good but God alone.” Yes, yes. You’re very smart.

In context, the verse is referring to a rich young man who came to him and began his question to Jesus by saying, “Good teacher.” Jesus response to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.” Instead of saying that it was inappropriate to call him “good,” Jesus was asking what the young man saw in him that was reflecting the goodness of God and then Jesus challenged him to go and reflect that same goodness. Put another way, Jesus asked, “If only God is good, then what is it about me that is reflecting that goodness? And if you understand it, then how can you do the same?”

When it comes to the saints, John Paul II said, “The lives of the saints, as a reflection of the goodness of God — the One who ‘alone is good’ — constitute not only a genuine profession of faith and an incentive for sharing it with others, but also a glorification of God and his infinite holiness.” So, the member of my former congregation was correct, only God is good, but you and I as the saints of God, can reflect that goodness and bring glory to our God.

As we study the saints, we often times come across their great deeds and words, but as I studied the life of St. Margaret of Scotland, it was this reflection of goodness, the reflection of God, that struck me most.

Her works include bringing some reform to the Scottish church, and with her husband, King Malcolm, building schools, hospitals, and rebuilding the monastery of Iona. In addition, they established a Benedictine monastery, Dunfermline. Truly wonderful deeds, yet I saw the goodness of God reflected the most in her when I read that she would not sit down to eat her own meal until she had fed her nine orphan children and twenty-four other paupers. Or how she and her husband, during Advent and Lent, would feed and serve 300 of the poor in their kingdom, and not only did they serve the meal on the royal dishes, but they served them on their knees.

She died in 1093, four days after her husband was killed in a battle with the English. Her final words, “O Lord Jesus Christ who by thy death hast given life to the world, deliver me from all evil?” She was forty-seven.

After Jesus had read from the scroll of Isaiah and said, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth. They said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” The people were surprised that this son of Joseph, this son of a carpenter was saying and doing such wonderful things.

The same can be true for us. When they see us going about the business of God, they may say, “Isn’t that ____? I knew her when….” Or “Isn’t that ___? They’re from the wrong side of the tracks?” And perhaps their statements are true. Perhaps we are not good in and of ourselves, but like Margaret, when we are transformed through Christ, we can reflect the goodness of God and bring Him glory. As Jesus teaches, “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

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