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2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time homily

Fr. Michael MachacekNativity of Our LordJanuary 15, 2023
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today's readings are Isaiah 49: 3, 5-6; Psalm 40; 1 Cor. 1: 1-3 and John 1: 29-34

2nd Sunday of Ordinary Time A based on 1 Cor. 1-3

Each year at a school mass, I ask the kids a question that I was asked when I was their age: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  Last fall I heard the many of the usual answers – teachers, professional athletes, doctors, scientists, etc.  But only once in all my years did I hear a child say, “I want to be a saint”.

So, what do you want to be when you grow up?  And by the way, even if you are older than me you shouldn’t have stopped growing up.  For growing up is a life long process, and we all need to keep growing throughout our lives as we strive to become the person God made us to be.

So going back to my question, I hope everyone’s answer would be that you want to be a saint.  After all, you were baptized – and by virtue of your baptism you were called to be a saint.

Which brings my next question – how does one become a saint? When I asked that of one grade school class, one child answered, “You’ve got to be dead”.  Actually, that is part of the official definition. For a formally recognized saint is someone who lived their life fully in our faith, serving God and others.  And after they died miracles were accomplished as people invoked their names in prayer.  These miracles were investigated by church and medical authorities.  After further investigation, the Church declared that person canonized.  That’s the formal way of becoming a saint. 

St. Paul in today’s 2nd reading reminds the people of Corinth that they are called to be saints.  But what he is talking about is something different than the definition we just heard.  What St. Paul is telling them reminds me of what once a wise priest once said to me about saints – he said that a saint is someone who shows the way to be a Christian to others, who sets an example to others.  That’s what a real Christian does – and not just from up in heaven, but here on this earth, here among us.  A saint is someone who shows the way to be a Christian to others, who sets an example to others.

St. Paul is right.  We all need to be saints.  And when I think about it, I have known many saints, some of whom are even present here at this mass.  For they are persons who give of themselves freely and gratefully to others, as Jesus tells us to do. For example, there is one parishioner I know who spent many years quietly taking care of her husband while he was dying.  There was nothing glamorous in what she did, there were no books written about what she has done, and she probably won’t be canonized by the church after she dies – but she is a saint.  I can think of another parishioner who has given of himself to one marginalized group by his service in a parish organization.  And if I told him he was a saint, he would dismiss me with a smile and a wave of his hand.  But I know he is a saint.

Those are just 2 of the many saints I know – and there are many more.  And I could come up with many more examples.  Who are the saints in your life?  What could you tell me about them?

By the way, have you been a saint for someone else?  Because we are called to be saints – people who believe in the faith and then live that faith.  God wants you to be a saint. 

To be honest, if you do so, chances are that you still probably won’t be canonized after you die, there won’t be any churches or schools named after you.  But God in heaven will have a name for you.  This is what He will call you – good and faithful servant, His beloved, His saint.  And in the end, that’s how we all should be named.