Saturday, October 31, 2009

Feast of All Saints – Gospel: Matthew 5: 1-12 --This is our feast day

During the papacy of John Paul II, I heard a priest friend of mine saying at one stage how he thought it was crazy the way John Paul II was making (or ‘canonizing’) so many saints. He was saying, ‘what is the point of it?’ But I told him that I disagreed with him because I believed that one of the things that the pope was doing was showing us that holiness is something that all of us are called to and that many people reach. The great thing about what John Paul was doing was also in the fact that he officially recognised (canonized) so many lay people as saints. In the past there was a misperception that one usually had to be in religious life to become a saint and generally those who were canonized were priests or religious. The truth is that there are many saints all around us right now, but most of them we will never know about until we reach heaven ourselves. Everyone who reaches God in heaven when they die, is a saint and that is our destiny. That is what we are called to.

A common misunderstanding that many people have is that a saint is someone who never does anything wrong. That is naive and quite ridiculous. If you read any reasonably accurate or honest life of any of the saints, you will notice two things that all of them have in common. First of all they were ordinary people who struggled with their humanity like any of us, but they also had a great love for God and they were open to God. Secondly, they all suffered quite a lot during their life. And this struggle, which all of us are faced with, is part of what brought them close to God. The suffering they went through, and which all of us have to go through because it is simply part of this life, was part of what formed them and drew them close to God. Perhaps one of the differences between them and some other people would be that in spite of the difficulties they were faced with, they kept coming back to God. They kept getting up again when they were knocked down. They didn’t give up. As you well know it is often very tempting when you are down to say, ‘ah, where’s the point? I couldn’t be bothered.’ It is not always easy to get up again, to admit you are wrong, or to have to try again. But that is what we are called to. That is what makes a person blossom.

God is calling all of us along the same path; that is, along the path that leads to him. It is not the easiest path, but it is the only path that is really worthwhile. That is why Jesus taught us ‘what use is it for someone to gain the whole world, but to lose their soul?’ Everything here is passing and no matter how much we ‘achieve’ in the world’s eyes, that is not what counts before God. That is also why it doesn’t matter before God whether we have been ‘successful’ or not, as the world sees it. It is great if you have, but it is not what is important. That also means that the person who has become the head of a big company has no advantage over someone who is unemployed, or is even living on the street, because that is not what counts before God. We are not called to be ‘successful’, but simply to do our best. What we are called to above all else is to love God and to love the people around us. And as you know, it is possible for everyone to do that.

The one thing that God will not do is force us to follow him or to love. God continually draws us forward, but we can resist, and as you know we often do resist. However, the wonderful thing is that no matter how many times we resist or turn away, God will continually call us back and lovingly welcome us back every time we turn to him again. And that is largely the struggle that we have to go through in this life until we get to heaven ourselves. It is not guaranteed that we go to heaven for the simple reason that if it was, then our free will would mean nothing. But heaven is what God wants for us and the Lord will make that happen unless we totally and completely reject God by the way we live. Sadly some people do seem to completely reject God and everything to do with God. However, we do not know that for sure and that is why we can never judge the heart of another person, even if their actions are wrong.

Perhaps one of the most important things to remember about all this is that God is with us and will do everything possible to help us find happiness, beginning in this life and fulfilled in the next life in a way that we cannot possibly imagine. All things are possible to God and as long as we remain open, God will help us to find that happiness, beginning in this life, and fulfilled in the next.

No comments:

Post a Comment