We often think of the saints as kind of super human people. It is easy to see how this happens, because often the books we read, or the stories told about them, highlight wonders that were performed through them, their great gifts, or their saintly virtues. We never hear about their humanity. They consequently seem a million miles from us, and our daily lives watching soaps. We can think that we can never become saints, that it is a bridge too far. We can feel that I am a sinner who keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. All of us however are called to be saints…. and all of us can become saints. We do not have to be superhuman, but rather try our best, trusting in God’s love and mercy, that He, as our loving Father, always forgives us.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is revealed to three of the apostles in the splendour of His Heavenly Glory. He is transfigured in the most amazing light. It is a sight beyond words, and the two most famous Jewish Prophets also appear namely Moses and Elijah. Could you imagine being there? Everything you worry about would just evaporate and a great joy would descend upon you. We have to love Peter as he is so like us. He seems to act and then think later, and always putting his foot in it. However, Peter was also great, as Peter kept going, loving God and trusting in His mercy, and is now a great saint as a result. This is what makes a saint, not the stigmata or some other gift, but their continuous trust in God, through thick and thin. Peter, in today’s Gospel, wants to build tents, instead of contemplating the amazing wonder unfolding before his eyes. On the way down from the mountain the three chosen apostles, are fascinated by Elijah, rather than God Almighty who was in front of them. They are more interested in a saint, than the saint’s creator who is walking down the mountain with them. This is because, even though these three apostles are are now saints, they are also human and like you and I.
The reality is that the saints struggled on a daily basis too. They too sinned and had to confess their sins. They too doubted God sometimes, and they struggled to persevere in their faith. They too were annoyed by people, and offended, and mocked, and badly treated. They too were afraid, and had many worries and fears, and these were very real to them. They caused them much pain. There is a famous story told of St Peter, in Catholic Tradition, that he was leaving Rome, maybe 20 years after Christ’s Death, when Christ appeared to him, and asked him where he was going. Peter was running away as he was going to be killed – very understandable. He turned back however, as he felt this was God’s will for him, and he was crucified. He asked to be crucified upside down to respect the way Our Lord died. Now the great St Peter’s Basilica stands in this spot, and thousands come to visit, each day, two thousand years later. Was it a good idea to follow God’s Will and go back into Rome?
We are just like Peter, but Peter is a saint because he was humble, and he obeyed and turned back. Do we remember when Peter denied the Lord three times before the Cock crowed? What did he do? He repented. He wept as he was so sorry. So, like us the great St Peter, failed, and fell time and time again. He was a sinner, but that is what it is to be human. His greatness came from humbling himself, admitting he did wrong, getting up again and trying to do better the next time.
Let us take courage from the great St Peter today. Let us not be afraid to keep going, for we know that day always follows night, the night never lasts for 24 hours. Let us try and become saints today, in this Lenten period, by doing the small things with love. Let us keep trying, and forget our failures and disappointments which, can niggle at us, but which, once confessed, are forgotten about by Our Lord. Let us walk in the light!