Saturday, November 1, 2008

They Didn't Start Out As Saints!

Monsignor Dennis Clark, Ph.D.

Catholic Exchange

November 1, 2008

Feast of All Saints

Rev 7:2-4, 9-14 / 1 Jn 3:1-3 / Mt 5:1-12

As we mark this Feast of All Saints, it’s fascinating to remember where some of the better known saints started out and how their lives proceeded. St. Matthew was a tax collector. St. Mary Magdelene practiced the oldest profession in the world. St. Peter was impetuous and something of a blowhard, and he had to be pressed hard before he’d let gentiles become Christians unless they first became Jews! The whole lot of the Apostles ran for the hills when Jesus was taken captive in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that was just a short while after their robust promise that they’d follow Him anywhere and die with Him if need be.

The list could go on and on, but the point is a simple one: none of these great saints started out as saints. Quite the contrary was true. They slowly and painstakingly evolved into holy men and women, with many starts and stops and numerous temporary reversals. And very often, as many of them have testified in their diaries, they suffered from deep discouragement at their lack of progress and their frequent mistakes. St. Paul spoke for them and for us all when said in anguish, “The good that I would do, I do not.” Isn’t it the truth.

There’s a lesson in all this for us who are still struggling along our own roads: Growing up into God’s image and likeness takes a long time. It’s a lifetime work, and God understands that. After all, He’s the one who put us together.

So take heart. Rejoice in the little triumphs as they happen. Each one brings you a step closer to home. Each one brings you a step closer to the embrace of our Father.


Note: Venerable Matt Talbot would in all probability be absolutely shocked that we would remember his life today as one proposed for sainthood, but God had other plans.

The last paragraph of this homily reminds us of a recovering friend who is known for saying at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, "Hi, I'm Barb. Thanks to God and this program, I am alive and sober today and one day closer to home."