It’s hard to live with a saint. They might be the most generous, non-judgmental person on this good earth, but holiness is like a mirror which captures the blemishes on the skin of the one using it. When one lives with a saint, one’s imperfections seem to multiply.
Today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom gives voice to a group of people who usually don’t get a chance to say much in the Bible; namely, the wicked. As we read their words today, it might be a good idea to place ourselves in their shoes. Comparisons are odious. However, we human beings like to measure things. Runners and swimmers compare their times against their chief opponents. Golfers compare their scores to the others in their foursome. In team sports, our newspapers constantly compare the home team to others in the league. We love to read the lists of the world’s most wealthy or best dressed or of the most eligible bachelor/bachelorette. Perhaps we compare our lawn to the neighbors’ lawns. Whenever we compare our lives to the lives of others, we are holding them up to a mirror in order to admire them. However, this practice tends to backfire when we find someone who is better than. . .
Holiness of life is no different. Perhaps we don’t go as far as the wicked people in today’s first reading. At the same time, we tend to find excuses for why we are not as good as the next person.
Scripture scholars offer us many reasons for the fact that the Jewish authorities sought to put Jesus to death. However, it is fairly obvious that Jesus’ holiness but them to shame. The avoidance of shame and the acquisition of honor drives this culture. Jesus’ challenge to them inflamed their hearts against him. He died precisely because he was what the Pharisees and the Jewish authorities knew they were supposed to be.
St. Clare of Assisi wrote about the “mirror” that is Christ. By gazing into that mirror, we can see the imperfections that keep us from being who we were meant to be, who we had promised to be. For her it was an impetus to effecting a transformation in her life. I’ll bet she was hard to live with! I don’t lay this claim at her feet and judge her as guilty. I just know that it is hard to live with a saint.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator