There is a novel called The Man Who Lost Himself; in one scene the main character of the story trails a man to Paris. He has been hired to kill him; he thinks he knows at what hotel the man is staying but he is not sure. So he devises a plan to find out without arousing anyone’s suspicion. He decides to go to the hotel desk, give the room clerk his own name and ask if he is staying there. Then, as the clerk checks through the register, he will watch over his shoulder to see if the man who he has been hired to kill is staying there and see his room number. When he goes to the hotel he gives the room clerk his own name. To his utter surprise, the clerk does not check the register he simply says, “Yes, he is staying in room 40 and he is expecting you. I’ll have the bellhop take you to his room.” Well, the man is utterly flabbergasted; he has no choice but to go. So he follows the bellhop to room 40.
When he knocks at the door and it opens, he can hardly believe his eyes. There standing before him is a man who is his exact double. Except that he is grayer, heavier and about 20 years older. In fact, he is looking at himself 20 years into the future, after 20 years of killing. The story is pure science fiction, but it contains an important truth. The same truth today’s gospel talks about. We all have to give an account of ourselves to God, an account of our lives. The way we have lived, what we have done with the gifts that He gave us. There is a person out there in the future waiting for each of us. It is the person we ourselves will be 5…10…20 years from now.
The question today’s gospel asks us is this, “What kind of person will we be then? Will we be someone our family and loved ones, perhaps, our children can be proud of? Will we be someone we can be proud of? Do you need to make any changes?” When I think of life changes, I think of St. Matthew-the tax collector. He was a despicable man, he was a schemer, a cheat and yet Jesus called him. Talk about scandal. Then things got worse in the eyes of the religious establishment. Matthew throws a dinner party. The guests turned out to be as bad as Matthew himself; tax collectors and sinners. Can you imagine what that room looked like with a guest list like that?
A bunch of cutthroats and low-life’s all eating with Jesus. For Him, barriers between people did not exist. In fact, He had a bad habit of disregarding barriers. He touched an untouchable leper, healed a servant of a Gentile, cured a foreign woman’s daughter and then told a story about a Good Samaritan to people who hated Samaritans. He left no doubt about His message. There are no barriers with Christ; no one is excluded from the love of God. No matter how bad they have been or what they have done. Mother Teresa once said of lepers she treated, “We have drugs for people with diseases like leprosy, but these drugs do not treat the main problem. The disease of being unwanted and unloved; and there stands Jesus who does want us with all our faults, sins and problems.”
Jesus came to reveal to each of us the loving, compassionate, forgiving face of God, the Father. So many people are caught up in false notions of God: a God of anger, a judge, spying on people and ready to pounce. In all the world’s great religions, people seek God. Christ, however, introduces into the world an unexpected reversal. Christ reveals a God who seeks us. A God who loves us far more than we love ourselves; He reveals the true face of God: the God of love, of truth, a God of light, a God who did not come to judge and condemn but to save, heal and bring back and make whole. We might ask God sometimes to help us see our lives as He sees them. Help us see those areas in our lives that need improving or changing. Help us take those steps necessary to bring our lives into accord with the life He had in mind for us when He created us.
We are all called to be Saints. Perhaps, not heroic sanctity like Francis or Teresa; but we are called to be Saints because in scripture Saint is just another word for Christian. What is a Saint? A sinner that keeps trying and never gives up.