I don’t know about you, but I have always wanted to be a saint. That’s some goal, isn’t it? But actually we are all called to be saints. Some of us will be known by the whole church, like St Thérèse and St Anthony and some of us will be known only by a few people.
I believe my grandparents to be happily living with God in heaven and when I am going through a hard time I ask my grandma to look down on me from heaven, and pray for me.
So what is a saint? A saint is someone who lives in heaven, they live in God’s presence all the time, they are God-like. Have you heard the saying ‘you become like those you love’. Those you love, you admire and in loving them you start doing the things they do. People sometimes call this being a ‘copy cat’, but it’s not really, it’s natural to copy the person you love.
Well, the saints love Jesus and they tried to live their lives like Jesus lived His. This makes them God-like and that makes them saints. Gosh, that’s a bit of a mouthful but really it is quite simple. If you love Jesus with all your heart you will become a saint! That’s easy to say but not so easy to do. What made St Francis whose feast is on the 4th October the most ‘Christ-like of saints’?
Well, one of the things that St Francis did was that he saw everyone and everything as brothers and sisters, made in love by God. He saw trees, flowers, people on the streets and even bullies, everything to him was a brother or a sister.
When I was about 5 years old, some people came to our church to talk to us about the poor children in Russia. They showed us a video of the children and I was so struck by these little children who had no toys to play with. The people asked us to give what we could. I went home and packed up all my toys, even my new doll that could walk, and ask my mum to send them to Russia for the children.
My mum thought I would change my mind once the toys were gone, and that I would want them back. I kept pleading with her and eventually she sent them.
At Christmas the people returned to our church and showed us the little children playing with the toys. I remember seeing this little Russian girl, about my own age, crying with joy because she had been given my doll that could walk.
This image has remained with me all my life. My old teddy bears and dolls had become their new toys, and through this giving we had become ‘one’ in our love of the toys. I was so happy to see the children with the things, and I never wished for them back. Without knowing it at the time I was seeing this little girl as my sister and loving her like I would my own sister.
So you see, in sharing these toys I began to see people like St Francis saw them. This little girl was really my sister, she too was made in God’s image, made in God’s love.
So maybe for this Feast of St Francis we should try to live like he did. We could share something that we have with someone who has not. Maybe it could be you playing with a new kid at school, sharing your sweets with your younger sister or letting your brother play with your football.
Maybe we could try to be kind to everyone like St Francis was and show them love because we know they are loved by God.