Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
I recall saying when I was a young adult, that I’m not aiming for sainthood. How stupid was I? It is not that I aspired towards evil. I just did not think that I had the capacity to be perfect. I was already a perfectionist falling short of my earthly standards. Aiming higher seemed absolutely impossible.
Ironically, I did not know Jesus commanded us to be perfect, as recorded in Matthew (5.48), nor did I know that much about the saints, an obvious error in my formation as a young adult, practicing Catholic. Saints were to be venerated, I understood. In reality, however, saints are to be imitated.
If you have read any of my earlier posts, you would know that I love learning about the saints. They are the super heroes and the champions of our faith.
Why do I love them so? I think it is because they stood for principles they believed were worth suffering for, even dying for. They recognized the beauty in all of God’s creations. In the disabled. The poor. The wretched. The saints recognized the intrinsic worth that our Lord, Jesus Christ, placed on each individual human life. Each is given the opportunity to become perfect, like Our Lord.
Had I learned sooner, I would have understood that the men and women, boys and girls, who became saints, were aiming to come closer to our Lord, Jesus Christ, by way of serving Him as perfectly as they could.
In Rediscovering Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion and Purpose, Matthew Kelly points out,
We can learn from the lives of the saints through imitation, not by veneration alone. The desire of the saints was to serve God with a singularity of purpose, purity of heart and mind. It was their daily personal challenge to walk in the path of perfect responsiveness to God’s call.There are two great differences between heroes, leaders, champions and saints that fill the history books and the rest of us. In the first place, they tended to have a singleness of purpose that penetrated every activity of their lives. And in the second place, they formed habits that helped them to achieve their goal. These aren’t the mindless habits that are acquired by choosing a path of least resistance and maximum pleasure, but the life-giving habits that lead to excellence and holiness. (page 114)
Our modern world offers no fewer opportunities than the saints encountered in their own lives. We are called to be saints, but do we answer the call?