Can Hypocrites Become Saints?
She looked at me and said, ‘I’ve had it with this church. It’s full of hypocrites.” And then she added, “People come to church and go out the way they came in with no difference! They’re just as mean and unkind as everybody else.” And with a sigh she said, “Nobody ever changes.” I looked at her with sympathy and told her, “I hear you, no one is perfect.” Then, trying to put her comments in perspective, I said, “If everyone in church is perfect, it wouldn’t be called church. It would be called heaven. In the meantime, we go to church to learn how to become better than we are. Jesus doesn't expect a straight A report card every week. He asks that we try the best we can, not be afraid to name our faults, and be open to asking Jesus to do the rest.”
Unlike this exasperated and discouraged Catholic, Jesus doesn’t get discouraged. He knows us and is patient with the changes we need to make in our lifetime. Jesus is willing to work with us with whatever it takes.
Everyday Jesus pours into our lives ample opportunities for change. He gives his healing grace plus sufficient patience. Jesus rejoices when we have good days and walks alongside us on the cloudy and dark ones.
He quickly sends the Holy Spirit to prompt us with love hoping that we see a different path just around the corner. When we are careless or thoughtless with those we love, or act disrespectful or hurtful, Jesus gently pulls the strings of our hearts to still us from over-reacting. He doesn’t run from our anger. Jesus knows we have good qualities such as warm and loving responses tucked away in our hearts. When we forget, get tired or fall on our face, Jesus comes quickly to pull us back from the edge.
Why? Because Jesus knows what we are made of and what we are capable of. He looks deep into our hearts at the good we have done and we can yet do. He helps us see what is possible and urges us to get up and choose that way. Jesus is always the positive force in our lives that moves us in the direction of good. What we need to do is see this good and grasp it.
Jesus showed us when he walked the earth that even though he is fair and just, he prefers giving mercy instead of punishment. Jesus will always tip the scales in favor of compassion and not condemnation.
If Jesus has any hope that we will change our ways, he is right there with the grace needed to help us rise and move forward. For as long as we live, we will always win the precious gift of God’s mercy.
Remember this important quality about the Church. Our Church is a greenhouse for Saints, but before we arrive there, we need to let go of our sinner status. Pope Francis understands this when he says, “I am a sinner.” Pope Francis knows who he is and he knows with Jesus at his side what he can become. His destiny is our destiny too. “My suggestion is keep going to church, it is the one true place we can still change hypocrites into saints.”