In the mid 1980's I was assigned to the beautiful state of Hawaii in Honolulu. Each time the pastor began his homily he would say, "My dear Saints." As I reflected on Father's greeting, I first thought it a little overstated. "We are not there yet!" I would say to myself. However, the older I become the more accurate I think Father was. We are Saints-in-the-making.
On this eve of the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Easter, I recall the beautiful and touching Good Friday service. In the church where we attended in Virginia, at least a thousand people went to venerate the image of Jesus on the cross. The cross was about 4 feet high, steadied by two young acolytes. Many knelt to kiss its feet, or to reverence it in other ways. Some touched the feet, others the wounded side, others bowed in reverence. Grandmothers, a young army woman, a tall man whose close cropped hair reminded me of a Marine, mothers with infants, teen boys, older men, an EMT (emergency medial technician), the well off, and the not so rich, people of every color all reverenced Jesus represented by the study wooden crucifix. As we waited prayerfully for all to come up to the cross, I thought how each one of those present would someday share in that cross. Others obviously are shouldering part a cross of illness, or of stress, or of burdensome duties. Not one of those who crowded into that church would be without some form of a cross. Yet there was a serenity about all those whom I saw. There was love for God and what he did for us in Jesus. Confessions, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, was available in two side chapels after the service. Again, the elderly, young mothers, teens and parents, mature adults and religious Sisters, lined up to hear the reassuring words "I absolve you from your sins...".
Jesus died and rose that we might truly be Saints--holy people. Holy people imitate Christ. That is what we want to be, saints. Not santimonious, but saintly. After this Lent, we want to rise up, to a "new life", a life where we make room for Jesus to live in us. May your life and mine be one of true joy as we celebrate once again the Good News: Christ is risen. Yes, He is truly risen! Alleluia!