“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.”
It doesn't matter if you were born in a wealthy or poor family, lived in a mansion or in a cave, or if you were fed with a silver or wooden spoon. I hate to say this, but you were born a sinner. But I am so happy to tell you that we were also born to be holy - be saints!
Today is the solemnity of All Saints. Today, we celebrate the holy men and women (and not too few children) who lived up to their fullest potential. They did not allow their race or background or sins to weigh them down. They did not allow abuse or neglect, suffering or pain, anguish or turmoil to bury them alive! They allowed Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, to be their light and their salvation.
Once upon at time, children read Butler’s Lives of the Saints. These men and women (and not too few children) were their superheroes, their role models, their idols!
Today, we prefer that our children read comic books, children’s books and novels because they appear more human than our saints! But the reality is that Cinderella of the Royal Palace, Sleeping Beauty of the Woods, Harry Potter of Godric’s Hollow and Tarzan of the Jungle do not exist, but St. Joan of Arc, St. Theresa of Lisieux, St. Philip Neri of the Slums, and St. John Bosco of the Orphans do exist and so do their monasteries, orphanages, oratories and schools!
I think it is a shame to take our saints and to throw them across the room; to go from one extreme to the other – that is, to say that they were not human and then to say that they were only human! The reality is this: they were men and women (and not too few children) that lived their lives on earth like the rest of us but with their eyes and ears, heart and mind, hands and feet directed towards heaven! They knew and believed that what they did and what they encountered was all for the glory of God. They knew and believed that when they fell, when they stumbled and when they sinned, they would find redemption and healing, forgiveness and compassion, mercy and love. They knew and believed that when they were lost, they would find The Way; when they doubted, they would find The Truth; and when they were dead, they would find The Life.
I love the saints because they remind me of who I am and what I could be! They remind me of what Jesus can do with me, in me and through me!
Not too long ago, a parishioner came up to me and told me why they enjoyed a sermon I gave a few weeks ago. I could not even remember what I had told them, but they did. They said, “You told us something that we had never heard before. You told us that we could be saints!”
It’s true, we never hear it. And I think the reason why we never hear it is because we don’t believe it. But it is true! We can be a Saint. We can even be a canonized Saint!
I often tell our catechists that there number one goal in teaching the faith is not that their students learn the faith but that they live it! The catechists number one concern should not be that they have it all memorized, but that they know it by heart. Our number one goal in instructing adults and children in the faith should be that they want to be saints.
I know…you can’t believe it! But imagine how the elderly woman or man who instructed Karol Wojtyla or Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu must have felt the day they heard, either from heaven or from their barn, that their former pupil John Paul II or Mother Theresa had become a saint! I am sure that by their example and that of the saints, they were able to help their young students believe in the lives of the saints!
Becoming a saint is much easier than winning roulette. The odds are in our favor! The Lord is definitely on our side!