My son likes to play an Apostle Quiz Game on a Catholic kids website we frequent. It’s been great, since he now knows a lot about his Apostles. The one thing that bugs me, though, is that Peter’s "fun fact" is that he lost faith and started to sink when Jesus called him out of the boat and Thomas is identified by the fact that he doubted Jesus.
Recently, on the feast of St. Martha, I thought of that game as I listened to the Gospel of her rebuke by the Lord. Now, it’s not that we can’t learn a thing or two from that situation (Heaven knows I can!), but I personally would have chosen the other Gospel choice in which Martha professes, point blank, her belief in Jesus’ healing power and in the Resurrection. Well done, St. Martha! Your faith allowed Jesus to raise your brother!
Aren’t we tempted to remember some saints only by their former lives? Matthew: tax collector. Mary Magdalene: prostitute. St. Augustine: playboy and pear thief. These facts about their former lives are true, but when we stop there, we miss the whole deal!
As there are several places in my house that could use some updating, I love to watch home makeover shows. Regardless of what the particular focus of the show is, they always do a "before" shot review before the big reveal. The idea is to remember the sorry state things were in before the crew arrived. The worse it was in the beginning, the better the results look. But can you imagine a show of all "before’s"? Who would watch that? One dark-paneled old 70’s room after another? No way!
The same is true for our portrayal of the saints. We remember their former days in order to highlight the great work that God has done. We can’t get caught in "before".
Of course, the same needs to be true in our own lives as well. We need to call to mind our sins, failings, and pre-conversion ways of life from time to time. We need the humility such memories bring back. We need to remember what we are capable of without God’s grace, and what we are able to do with his help. But we can’t stay there!
Sometimes we get so caught up in our own sins and faults that we come to believe that God can’t forgive us or do anything with us. That’s just plain bad theology. And really, it would be bad spiritual HGTV. Today, let’s all take an inventory of the ways that God has moved in our lives, the sins and vices he has saved us from and the marvelous ways he is using us to touch the lives of others.
Copyright 2010 Libby DuPont
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