1 November 2020: The Solemnity of All Saints
SHARING THE LIVING WORD
by FR. Clyde, Parochial Vicar
“There is no saint without a sinful past,
and there is no sinner without a saintly future.”
“Once upon a time in a faraway land, lived two brothers. They were likeable, but undisciplined, with a wild streak in them. Their mischievous behavior turned serious when they began stealing sheep from the local shepherds—a serious crime in those days when wealth was measured by the number of sheep one owned.
In time, the thieves were caught. The local shepherds decided their fate: the two brothers would be branded on the forehead with the letters ST, standing for Sheep Thief. This sign they would carry with them forever.
One brother was so embarrassed by this branding that he ran away from the village and was never heard of again. The other brother, filled with remorse and reconciled to his fate, chose to stay back and make amends to the villagers he had wronged.
At first, the villagers were skeptical and would have nothing to do with him. But this brother was determined to make reparation for his offenses. Whenever there was sickness, the sheep thief came to care for the ill. Wherever there was any work that needed to be done, the sheep thief came to help.
It made no difference whether the person was rich or poor: the sheep thief was there in time of need. He never accepted any payments for his good deeds. He lived his life for others. Through his efforts, he was able to win back the trust and respect of his fellowmen and women. In short, he won the hearts of his neighborhood.
Many years later, a traveler came through the village. Sitting at a sidewalk café eating lunch, the traveler saw an old man with a strange brand on his forehead seated nearby. The stranger noticed that all the villagers who passed the old man stopped to share a kind word with him and to pay their respects. Children stopped their play to give and receive a warm hug to and from the old man.
Curious, the stranger asked the café owner. ‘What does that strange brand on the old man’s head stand for?’ ‘It happened so long ago…’ the café owner replied. Then, pausing briefly for a moment of reflection, he said, ‘…But I think that the letters ST on his forehead is an abbreviation for the word: SAINT!’”
My dear brothers and sisters, this Sunday, we celebrate the Solemnity of All the Saints. The saints were people like us, who were sinners yet strived to live a life pleasing to God. They were sinners like all of us, who never stopped trying to correct their faults and shortcomings through their tremendous love of God and others.
Let us bear in mind that “there is no saint without a sinful past, and there is no sinner without a saintly future.” We are all gifted by God with tremendous potential. One of the strengths that all of us are blessed with is to learn from our mistakes.
Many people feel so broken by failures that like the first brother in the above anecdote, they just give up trying. This is indeed sad. Every one of us has the potential to do what the second brother did. Repent for the wrong and strive to change for the better.
Let us also bear in mind that God does not care much of our past, but HE is in full attention to our present and is looking forward for our future. Meaning, if you have repented today because of a grievous error you committed yesterday—God is looking at you at the present moment with a merciful gaze and hugging you with a loving embrace.
As one author said, “Time should not be a parameter for such a change. The motivation to change, the motivation to be of service to others unconditionally, and the fact that we can do it, will work the miracle. Yes, if you have committed a wrong, you can and must right it!”
The Saints are our model in treading the path to perfection. Every time the saints stumble and fall, they never give up in trying—they walk again and again until they reach the goal of holiness. For whatever wrongs and mistakes we have done in this life does not necessarily define who and what we are. What defines us is how well we rise after we fall.
Sadly, nowadays sainthood is no longer attractive because majority of the people in the world are aiming towards becoming a celebrity. There is a great need for the world to shift direction. We have to consider the “beatitudes” as our compass. “Jesus Christ cannot glow unless we let our vanities go!”
The “BEATITUDES” as we hear from today’s Gospel is the best guide to sainthood. The beatitudes of Jesus tell us the secret of the saints for happiness and sanctity, not only on earth, but more so in God’s kingdom. They made themselves poor before God, humble and compassionate. They were peacemakers, clean of conscience and righteous in all virtues. They suffered and sacrificed; they were persecuted and maligned. Remaining faithful to the Lord, they faced everything that life could throw at them.