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Saint YOU?

February 3, 2018

I want you to try something that just kind of blew my mind a few days ago. Are you ready? Here goes.

 

Imagine the Church has opened your canonization process.

 

You heard me right! Not someone else's, but yours. People are prayerfully, diligently investigating claims that suggest you lived a life of heroic virtue and are now with God in heaven at this moment, serving Him eternally. Rumor has it that you were a person who, though not perfect, gave your whole life over to the Lord and you were one to whom people could look for a genuinely good example of devotion to Christ.

 

One of the most important tasks assigned by the Church to those who investigate such claims is to interview people who knew the potential saint in this life. So imagine such an interview taking place about you, your life, your actions, your words, your treatment of others. How would people respond to a question like, "What was _____'s prayer life like?" or "What did she do if others at work were gossiping about a fellow co-worker?" How about this one: "Did _____ say one thing but do another?"

 

If you're like me, this isn't an entirely encouraging prospect. I know what I've said about others on more occasions than I'd like to remember. I know my own sins far too well. Now, a saint is not someone who never did anything wrong. Indeed, some of the greatest saints in the history of Christianity started out as truly terrible, shameful, even violently abusive people in some cases.

 

What changed in their lives? In a word, everything. But it happened because of an encounter with Christ, the Living God who died to wipe away their sins and who rose to bring the offer of salvation to all. This is what Bishop Barron refers to as "the primacy of grace." Notice, the story doesn't end there. Grace alone is not sufficient. If it were, we would all be instantly saved without any free choice or commitment on our part. This is the truly fascinating part in my estimation. God does what we could never possibly do on our own, but He wants us to choose to participate in it.

 

The greatest saints in the history of the Church were people like you and me. They were oftentimes tempted toward the same faults till the end of their days, yet at some point they began to face those temptations to be someone less than they were meant to be with the strength of the New Life inside them, not by their own strength. As Saint Paul says in his taunt of the old power that used to have hold over him:

 

"I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 2:9-10).

 

I encourage you, I encourage all of us, to spend some time this week reflecting on this question. If the person you get along with the least were asked about your character, your integrity, your devotion to God and your loving respect of everyone of His children, what would that person say?

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