Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.


God made me and God doesn't make junk - Anonymous

“…they discussed among themselves what ‘rising from the dead’ could mean.”

One of my patients has a favourite T-shirt which he often wears to consultations with me. In block red capitals (presumably he has concerns about my eyesight) it says, “Every saint has a past. Every sinner has a future.”
Having lived with quite a few saints in my time, I can heartily attest to the former. But, just in case I have to live with them again, the story I am going to tell you is about the latter….

Now, you may know this already, but it is actually quite rare for anyone to listen to a homily all the way through. It is more rare for anyone to remember anything of it long after it has been given. But it is quite exceptional for a homily to change any one’s life.
I have a friend called Mark - I don’t mind calling him by his real name - he lives a very long way from here. At 16, he started taking drugs. By age 22, his life seemed to be completely destroyed. He had no home, no family and almost no possessions, except the clothes he stood up in. He had lost one leg when he walked in front of a car when he was high. He had tried to kill himself three times - twice by taking overdoses of drugs; once by trying to hang himself. When he went to church, it was not to pray but to beg off the people there. He found that Christians are most generous just after mass.

But, one Sunday, this gospel was read. And the priest said this in his sermon: “The meaning of the Transfiguration is that God does not make junk.”
God created the world - and He is not a bad work man.
God created Abraham and raised him up to be the father of many nations.
God sent his only begotten son into the world to die and rise again for our salvation. As St Paul says: “Could any one accuse those that God has chosen?”

At the end of the sermon, the priest made all the people stand up and say as part of the creed: “God made me: God doesn’t make junk.” He made them say it out loud three times, so as – he said – that it would penetrate not just the mind, but the heart and the soul.
And the power of peer pressure is such that, along with all the rest, Mark had to stand up and say three times aloud and trying to look as if he meant it: “God made me, God doesn’t make junk.”

And for days later, those words burned into Mark’s heart: “God doesn’t make junk.”
It became his prayer;
it became his faith;
it became his life.
“God doesn’t make junk.”

With that courage behind him, he gave up drugs; he found a wife and he found a life. Not in a moment, but in several months and years, he was transfigured. He told me, “I may be a junkie, but I am not junk.”

Let us promise God right here and now, that when we are tempted to despair, we too may be given the grace to know that the true meaning of the Resurrection is not how much I love God - it is how much God loves me.

Try it for yourself: I won’t embarrass you by making you stand up and say it out loud (though I admit I was tempted). We are, after all, British. But some time today, when you are quiet and alone, say it to yourself: “God made me; God doesn’t make junk.”

For now, let us profess our Faith in God, our Maker, our Redeemer.

Paul O'Reilly SJ