The image is of the conversion of St Paul by the artist Carravagio. Paul is a good example of someone who showed that Saints were very not perfect and in fact his life could be described as a “game of two halves”. He started passionately persecuting early Christians and looking to ensure they suffered . He was said to have happily witnessed the stoning and death of St Stephen and was on the way to Damascus to suppress the emerging Christian community when he was converted .
He then went on to be a founder of Christianity, ensuring the Good News was spread throughout the world, welcoming Jews and Gentiles. He used the same passion and vigour to do good in the world even after he had been so misguided previously. So we don’t have to worry in this case about Saints being “too perfect”!
As we celebrated the feast of All Saints and All Souls last weekend we were challenged to think on two levels about faith and to think about how we live our lives.
- All Souls is an opportunity for us to pray for all those who have died – we give thanks for their lives and pray for them to be embraced by the love of God.
- The feast of All Saints gives us an opportunity to give thanks for the lives of the Saints but also reflect on how to live our lives “listening to God’s call” for us. Saints may not be lost in history and relics but may be seen walking amongst us today.
So what are Saints? Fr Jack in NYC asks the same question…
I received a great email this week from a friend who is a Headteacher and has just visited Uganda. It made me think when I was writing this as it said…
“Met Joe here in Uganda. What a great guy who is doing fantastic work here – a living saint!”
Joe is a friend of mine who went out to Uganda initially for 5 days and ended up being there for 9 years so far… He setup a charity called Uganda Hands for Hope which does fantastic work ranging from education, medical care and supporting people in the local community to setup their own small businesses.
I am lucky enough to be able to support this work in a small way as a Trustee for LIFT UK which is the umbrella UK charity that supports Uganda Hands for Hope. I know that it is based on the commitment, vision and dedication Joe has shown and the efforts he has inspired with others. A few thoughts for us this week…
- What will we do to make a positive impact on everyone we meet each day?
- What can we learn from the very human image of sainthood as shown by St Paul and others?
- Not all of us can do what Joe did but what can we do to make a difference to the world around us?
At the heart of it if we all give it a try then this can only be a positive thing too… let’s all start with a few random acts of kindness too!