I have heard it said in different ways and I have also read it at different times, that the one true possible regret in life (when all is said and done) is the regret of not having been a saint. Now, this sounds both pretty lofty and quite intense but I think that the song of a popular singer can help us here. The singer is Carrie Underwood and the song is “So Small“.
What you got if you ain’t got love, the kind that you just want to give away … Sometimes the mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand … When you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small.
When we figure out that love is all that matters after all – the love that you just want to give away…
The lesson that the saints learned and the task that stands before us all is to learn to love with the very heart of Christ – with the love that gives away.
Now, we can replace this love with all sorts of things (we are very adept at this). We can even try to avoid this love but it must be stated that we are always less for it. It is of great benefit to us to notice in the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk. 16:19-31) both what we are told and also what we are not told – both in regards to the rich man’s possessions and his very self. Both what is made present to us and what is left absent from us in the parable have something to teach here. Jesus says, “Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day…” This man had all the best that the world could afford but what is not mentioned? What is absent from this succinct summation of the man’s life and “possessions”? Joy. In the midst of all the fine dining and all the sumptuous living, there is found a noticeable absence of joy in the man’s heart.
This absence, this vacuum is indicative of a loss of personhood. This is the other part of what we learn from what is left unsaid in the parable. Jesus intentionally does not name the rich man in the parable. We know the poor man’s name – Lazarus the beggar – but not the rich man’s. His name stands forgotten. Name is personhood. It is identity. So, somewhere along the line, this man lost not just his capacity for joy but tragically even more so. The man lost his very self.
To learn the lesson of the saints, to learn how to love with the very heart of Christ (to figure out in our lives that which is most important) means both to find joy and to gain true personhood. When we love with the heart of Christ, with the love that gives away, we gain our name – our very selves. And this is a beautiful thing to behold!
But you, man of God, shun all this. Strive to be holy and godly. Live in faith and in love, with endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith and win everlasting life to which you were called… (1 Tim. 6:11-12)
If I may be so bold as to paraphrase. In the light of God’s grace, seek to shun all that reduces the truth of who you are and live the love that gives and by so doing discover the very name that God alone has given you.
When we figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small.
The one regret is not to have been a saint…