I have been reading a book about two brothers, where one brother says to the other, “Would you have me be a saint all at once?” It is incredibly difficult to be a saint and especially one in a short time. We imagine that saints are born like that, that from a very early age they have saint stamped on them but, of course, we would be wrong. There are perhaps some people we come across who we feel may one day be ‘pillars of the community’, or will make a real difference to the world, and yet as they make choices in life, we realize the selfish nature within them. The real saints are those who always think of others and act in such a way that benefits others. But this is not the defining of a saint because there is much more to their life and character.
We can all put our loved ones first, that is natural, we can also put our friends and possibly our neighbours first without touching the meaning of being a saint. There needs to be something deep within that marks them out. Something that holds them up for praise and ridicule at the same time. A real saint is not one who curries favour with all they meet but is willing to stand alone for what they feel is vitally important. Mother Teresa was admired by many but also criticized by some for her work in the slums of Calcutta.
In our ‘quick fix’, ‘immediate gratification’ world that we live in a saint is marked out not by the praise of many but by the mockery and incredulity of many. We live in a time, where time and speed are of the essence. Saints are slow cumbersome creatures that look to the horizon rather than the next step in front of them. They are in it for the long haul. There is now a cult of the anti-hero who is imperfect but gets the job done. The fact is they do not exist. The people who make a real difference to our world are not the James Bond’s or Batman’s, but the people with integrity and strength of character, people who lay down their life for others. The best example I can think of is Jesus, he set the bar so incredibly high, no one has ever come near it.
God Bless Peter Bates