When he was a child, he was asked: “Who do you want to become when you grow up?”
He responded: “I want to become a doctor or an engineer to make a lot of money for my parents.”
Ten years later, he was asked: “How do you want your future to be?”
He said: “I want to be an educator to teach good lessons to younger generations.”
At times, he also thought of becoming a religious so as to proclaim the love of God to the world that still had so much darkness, brokenness and hatred.
Life went on. Sometimes tranquil. Other times chaotic.
Many years have passed; no one asks him that question about his future anymore. No one asks does not mean that he stops answering it because he is now the one who asks himself that question. He is conscious that his time on earth gets shorter every day. When he was younger, every step he made was accompanied by others. Today, each person has their own life to take care of, so he has to decide for himself. There is not that much time left for keeping wondering. Before, his behavior kind of showed he thought his time on earth was endless. Today, he understands it is not wise to think that way. Indeed, one can be gone just like a wind, unexpectedly in many cases. And, time does fly.
“Then who do I want to become?” He asks himself.
Doctor, educator, worker, engineer, farmer, religious, priest, lay person, soldier, officer, one with much or little education, rich or poor,… actually are only means. The years on earth have helped him understand that he may keep staying in a vicious circle if he focuses only on means. His spirit will keep being dragged behind, tired and chained. Ultimately, there is only one destination for this life, that is: the moment of seeing the living God face to face.
The quality of that moment depends on the goal of living today. To achieve this goal, one needs a pair of wings. These wings are an ideal. Living without an ideal is creating for oneself vulnerability to boredom, pessimism, lack of positive energy, disappointment, …
He has lived long enough to know there are different kinds of ideal and each kind has its proper effects. There is one that helps people a little more mature. Another helps show one’s fragility. Another prevents people from advancing. Still another leads to un-peacefulness, dissatisfaction, even inhumanity. And, there is one that makes him see life open wide before him. A spacious sky of liberty appears. With this ideal discovered, everything becomes opportunity: Jobs become opportunities for service, temptations for true love, crisis for more faith, joy for gratitude, suffering for intimacy,… Hardship becomes as light as a free cloud. Earth turns into heaven.
He wants to spend his time left to invest for that moment of meeting the God of love face to face by living out this ideal. He loves to have God embrace him rubbing his bald head, saying: “Thank you son. I am very happy!” This discovered ideal which has become the most important to him now is to become a saint in the midst of his concrete situations from today on. This is the ‘method’ he will try to apply to his living each day. Becoming a saint is his goal he desires to practice until his last moment.
Being a saint is being able to do great things in the ordinary life, for example: bending down to pick up a little piece of trash, rolling up the sleeves to wash the dishes joyfully, skipping a word of anger, swallowing a subjective comment, saying a consoling word while brokenhearted, forgiving without a need to be apologized, giving without any expectation, keeping reaching out though lonely, viewing failure as opportunity, respecting the differences of others, staying optimistic even in darkness, being firmly confident in God’s love no matter what,…
The goal to become a saint is the key that neutralizes difficulties in his different situations, indeed. When he is able to practice it, he experiences joy, a joy that is deeper than a thousand smiles.
Gently closing the eyes, lifting up his bald head, he whispers:
“Father, I am happy to have you in my life.
I want to become a saint.
During my time left on earth, I want to respond to the love you have shared with me.
Here are my hands, please take them.
Here are my feet, please guide them.
Only your will can have the capacity to make me a saint.
To truly become a saint is to choose to obey your will.
Here am I.
I come to do your will.
Joseph Viet, O.Carm.