Every one of us has said something along the lines of “He (or she) is a saint on earth.” I know a number of this kind of person, many of whom read this blog (I put that in so that each one of you can imagine I’m talking about you).
But when I think of a so-called saint on earth, I can’t help but think of my grandmother. I truly never heard her say a bad word about anyone. She was kind and generous and loved everyone. And everyone loved her back. One example of her holiness is that when she went to bed each night, she would lay on the bed with her head at the foot rather than the head of the bed. Why? She said it was so that she wouldn’t fall asleep before she finished her prayers. Once she finished, she would turn around and sleep peacefully.
In Sunday’s gospel from St. Luke, the crowds asked St. John the Baptist what they needed to do to get to heaven. St. John’s answer was simple. “Whoever has two cloaks should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
That’s really not too complicated, is it? You don’t have to have a halo or angelic wings to do what God wants you to do. It isn’t necessary to part the Red Sea. You just have to live your everyday life, but live it stupendously – be the best you can be. Be generous. Be faithful to God’s Word. Be kind to others.
My dad always told us kids this story. During the hard times when he was growing up, there were lots of people really struggling in Columbus, Nebraska. Grammie and Grandpa’s bakery was downtown, only a couple of blocks from the railroad tracks. To this day, numerous trains pass through Columbus each day. But during the Depression of the 1930s, many men who had lost their jobs, their families, their livelihood, took to riding the rails. We called them bums. Today we would call them homeless, but nobody used that word in those days. These lost souls would make their way to the bakery, where they apparently knew (or quickly learned) that they could get some bread or rolls from my grandmother at no cost. Dad used to say that as quickly as Grandpa was taking bread out of the oven in the back end of the bakery, Grammie was giving it away to poor, jobless men in the front end.
She exemplified St. John the Baptist’s command to help the poor. She lived the word of God. She was a saint on earth, and is now a saint in heaven. I hope I can see her again someday.