In paragraphs 6 through 9 Pope Francis treats the topic of The Saints “Next Door.” The suggestion is that we don’t need to look very far to find models to emulate. Do you think this is really true?
6. Nor need we think only of those already beatified and canonized. The Holy Spirit bestows holiness in abundance among God’s holy and faithful people, for “it has pleased God to make men and women holy and to save them, not as individuals without any bond between them, but rather as a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness”[Lumen Gentium 9] In salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in a human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people.
In some strains of Christianity, this might seem counter-intuitive. Many of us speak of that “personal relationship,” and indeed, even the Jesuits–including Pope Francis–counsel believers to cultivate that awareness of the closeness of Jesus as a friend, companion, and guide.
The distinction is that holiness is never solely about an individual. Going back to God’s special treatment of Abraham, the desired end to that relationship was not an elevation of the Patriarch into heaven, but the founding of a people faithful to God.