Time sometimes seems to pass very quickly and anniversaries come around before we know it. And it is by the act of remembering that situations and people can be transformed, enabling us all to find redemption and hope. From earliest times, for the Church one of the most important things to remember have been the saints, people whose lives or actions have been examples to inspire others.
Last month, we remember St Thomas, St Mary Magdalen and St James – three very different but very important figures who knew Jesus and whose lives have shaped and inspired generations of Christians. All the saints have something to offer us at different times in our lives, a kind of archetype with which we may identify for a time. St Thomas is known as Doubting Thomas because he would not believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he saw and touched Jesus himself, needing his own experience before he could believe.
In recent decades, scholars have been re-discovering the Early Church view of St Mary Magdalen as the woman of wisdom who truly understood Jesus’ teachings, often more clearly than the male apostles. She is often called The Apostle to the Apostles. But over the centuries male-dominated society, not liking such female pre-eminence, made her into a redeemed prostitute instead. St James was the brother of St John, the Beloved Disciple – the two sons of Zebedee who Jesus once rebuked for being too impulsive, violent, proud and self-regarding, but who also were among the first chosen by Jesus as disciples and who became people of great love and gentleness, key leaders of the Early Church.
My point is that everyone has a place and something to offer in God’s world. And by remembering the saints, by knowing their stories and in those stories identifying elements of ourselves, we can see that we too have gifts that can be used by God, that we too are loved by God, and that no part of the human character or situation is beyond the transforming power of God’s love