God uses us—men and women—with our failings, as well as our virtues.
What an encouragement! I was reminded of this while reading Frank Sheed’s, Catholic Evidence Training Outlines. This book can be difficult to find, but is worth searching out. AbeBooks.com will often turn up a copy.
In his outlines Sheed points out the extraordinary nature of the Four Evangelists (pp. 48-49), Saints Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with all their strengths and weaknesses. Ambition, cowardice, divine calling, courage—all of this and more can be seen in their lives. The same is true of other Old and New Testament men and women.
This should be encouraging when the lives of prominent men and women show the effects of the Fall; the consequences of being so desperately human. But we—and they—can rise above that in Christ, God be thanked! When we fall, we have God’s promise: “I will restore David’s fallen tent. I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins, and build it as it used to be” (Amos 9:11). We have the Sacraments and the riches of confession and absolution. We can then claim, with the Psalmist: “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord” (Psalm 118:17).
We err if we think of biblical figures as mythical. We also err if we see them as mystical—real enough, but chronicled primarily as types and illustrations. No! See them in their flesh and blood. Feel their desires! Walk in their shoes. Know, as Saint Paul declares, that their lives are chronicled in the scriptures because “whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (italics mine, Romans 15:4).¹
Hope. Hope in God. Look up, stand up, and get going! That is Christianity Richly!
¹ For this line of thought about how we see men and women in scripture, I am indebted to Bible Characters from the Old and New Testaments, by Alexander Whyte (his chapter on Samson). I acquired this book before entering the Church. As as a minister in the Free Church of Scotland in the late 19th century, Whyte was not sympathetic toward Catholics. But his mediations on biblical figures are vivid and often helpful.