By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
April 14, 2018
THAT is one thing for sure. Never think that to be a saint, one has to be spotlessly clean from beginning to end. We need to disabuse ourselves from this false idea of holiness.
In fact, the opposite is quite true. To be a saint, one has to be prepared to be hounded by all sorts of temptations and to be buffeted by all kinds of weaknesses. And yes, from time to time, he might fall and commit even a grave sin. But he also knows how to bounce back.
This is the real secret of becoming a saint – his capacity to begin and begin again, never allowing himself to get discouraged by his defects and sins, always quick to go back to God asking for forgiveness and for more grace, and also fast to learn precious lessons from his mistakes and sins.
In fact, in a certain way, his defects, the temptations around, and the sins he may commit would constitute as a strong urge to go back to God as quickly as possible. He does not allow them to separate him from his Father God.
And on the part of God, we can be sure that he would be filled with tremendous joy when we come back to him after we fall. This is what we can conclude from those very consoling parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son.
Pope Francis, in his latest Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et exsultate, echoed the same truth. “Not everything a saint says is completely faithful to the Gospel,” he said. “Not everything he or she does is authentic or perfect. What we need to contemplate is the totality of their life, their entire journey of growth in holiness, the reflection of Jesus Christ that emerges when we grasp their overall meaning as a person.” (22)
On our part, we should try our best to be very faithful. But it is also understood that our best efforts can sometimes fail us. We can still commit errors and even grave ones. But there’s always hope. God does not abandon us. He is willing to go through the complicated process of becoming man and dying for us on the cross and remaining with us for all time in the Church and with the sacraments just to bring us back to him.
This truth of faith should fill us with joy and confidence, and instead of mainly worrying about how to avoid sin, we should be more interested in doing what is good, what God wants us to do and to accomplish in this world. True sanctity is not so much a matter of being too concerned about sin as of doing the will of God. Sanctity is more joy than worry, more action than caution, although the latter have their role to play.
Let us remember that God wants all men to be saved. (cfr. 1 Tim 2,4) He created us for that purpose, to be like him and to be with him for all eternity. And even if we spoiled the original design God had for us, he has repaired so well that we can say that we are better off this time after sin than before sin.
That’s because with our sin, God became man and gave us a better deal of how to be with him in spite of our tendency to go against him. Somehow our dignity as children of God enjoys a greater status since by becoming man God shares our nature so we can more intimately share with his divine nature.
It goes without saying that we should not trivialize our tendency to sin. We should fight it as much as we can. But that reality should not undermine God’s will that he is bent on saving us – of course, with our cooperation also.