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Showing posts with label All Saints Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label All Saints Day. Show all posts

Sunday, November 1, 2020

A Homily - The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A) All Saints Day, A Holy Day of Obligation

First Reading – Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14 ©

Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):1-6 ©

Second Reading – 1 John 3:1-3 ©

Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:28

The Gospel According to Matthew 5:1 – 12a ©




The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

All Saints Day, A Holy Day of Obligation


Remember this!


God is not a king. God does not sit on a throne.


The multitude that John witnessed in his vision was numberless, there number was without measure, without end.


It is the full number of those who have experienced the persecution of the living, and have come to God, the creator of the universe over their long sojourn through time and space.


It is all of us, all of God’s children gathered together as one people, with none of us lost.


Have faith! The good shepherd has ensured it.


Be mindful.


We do not arrive in this place by the blood of the lamb, not the literal blood, not by the blood Jesus shed on the cross. That is a metaphor, we are not sanctified by animal sacrifice. We never have been and we never will be.


The world does not operate by such magical principles.


We are sanctified through the way, by fulfilling God’s will for us, as God leads us down the path.


We come into God’s presence when we have let go of all our enmities, when we have finally forgiven all who have wronged us, as God has forgiven us, and when we have accepted the forgiveness of those we have wronged. 


It is then and only then that we stand in the presence of the fullness of God, together with that great number of all our sisters and brothers, the number of people John witnessed, the number that is impossible to count.


Be mindful!


Do not look for God in the vestiges of glory and power and honors; for those kinds of illusions are easy to dwell on…cling to, and easy to misunderstand. Remember the humility of Jesus, and look for God there, in his wisdom, as if God were as soft and gentle as a lamb.


Consider the psalm for today.


All things and person have their being in God, who is the foundation of all that is and without whom there is nothing, true nothingness in which there is not even the possibility of something.


If you wish to climb the mountain to find God, that is fine, though God might prefer for you to turn to your neighbors to see God reflected in their face.


See them, behold the face of God, and in that holy presence give thanks. 


Be mindful, and do not worry about your own holiness. Know that God loved you before the creation of the world, when only the possibility of you and all that you are existed. And know that all things and everyone who are loved by God, are holy.


There is no vanity in emulating the love that God bears for all of God’s children.


Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother. Seek justification through the quality and extent of your mercy.


If you look for the God of Jacob, instead of seeing God in Jacob you will only be looking at idols. God is not confined to the pages of a book, of by the inked letter on a scroll, neither is God bound by the history and mythology of a people. Look to those things for glimpses of God, and remembrances of past encounters, but seek the living God in living beings.


Be mindful of the words of the apostle…he is not always right, and in the reading for today he is wrong.

Know this!


Every person is a child of God. God, the creator of the universe, God loves all people equally, and there is not a single one of us whom God rejects.


Understand this, the devil has no children.


There is no devil.


Acknowledge your own faults without blaming the “forces of evil.”


Every one of us has sinned, no one is free from it. Living a saintly life does not wipe out sin, or make it so that the sins we have committed never happened. God’s promise is not to erase our sins as if they never happened, but to undo the harm they have caused to us and others, to transform the consequences of those sins into something good.


The teachings of Jesus cannot be treated like a shell game, though they are, and have been since the beginning, as Matthew’s illustrates.


The way of Jesus is not a long con, it is not a bait and switch, it is a simple teaching that cannot be controlled or owned by any one group of people.


The truth is in the open for anyone to see.


The wise and the powerful, the learned and the clever, the weak and the meek, everyone has access to the same truth, to the knowledge of God, of justice, of hope and love.


Who are the wise and powerful, who are the learned and the clever, who are the faithful and childlike. In every generation, you will see a new group labeling the elder group as out of touch, blind, privileged, in the dark, corrupt.


It is an endless cycle, and the way remains the same; love justice, be merciful, do good, serve God through the loving service you provide to one another: your family, your friend, your neighbor, the stranger, even your enemy.


Just because a person may be wise and powerful, learned and clever, or a child of the Church, does not mean they will inerrantly recognize the truth when they see it, or act upon it when they do.


It is not your station in society, it is not how other people regard you, it is not the titles you have earned, or the ways that you have been marginalized that give that determine how you will fulfill the calling to follow Jesus. What matters is what is in your heart, and your willingness to trust in the content of your hope, the hope you hope for yourself and the hope you hope for everyone.


Consider the Gospel for today.


Much has been written about the sermon on the mount. It is hard for me to believe that I would have anything new to add to that discussion, but adding something new is not as important as sharing the story itself, and how it shapes our understanding of the Gospel.


It is important that we share our perspective and keep the conversation moving.


In this teaching Jesus shares a way of seeing the world, of living in society, of understanding our relationship to the creator; it is a teaching that reverses the expectations that were prevalent in his time.


He might have said; the providence of heaven belongs to all people, regardless of who they are or where they came from or how far they think they are from the love of the creator, no matter what creed they profess, or what traditions bind them, and no matter how little they may think about God.


The gentle seek no possessions, they have nothing to guard, are themselves unguarded and free. By freeing themselves from their desires they have gained everything.


Have hope, all sadness and all mourning come to an end.


Strive for what is right and just, for what is universal and true, for what touches all people, give up your concerns for yourself and your tribe.


The narrow path leads to misery, and the broad road leads to joy.


Mercy follows upon mercy, as the sun follows the rain.


All people will come to the vision of God, as certain as they will come to know their true selves. The fullness of God is at the center of all people; it is the indelible bond that connects us to one another, from the beginning of time to the end.


Accept the parentage of the divine. Take up the task God has set before us. Love justice, be merciful, make peace.


The providence of heaven belongs to all people, to possess it you must share.


If you are abused and persecuted for the sake of peace and mercy. Have no fear, the powers of sin and evil, and the pain they bring, the reality of sickness and death, these are temporary; they will end.



First Reading – Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14 ©


I Saw a Huge Number, Impossible to Count, of People from Every Nation, Race—Tribe and Language


I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.


After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’


One of the elders then spoke, and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’



Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 23(24):1-6 ©


Such are the men who seek your face, O Lord.


The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,

  the world and all its peoples.

It is he who set it on the seas;

  on the waters he made it firm.


Such are the men who seek your face, O Lord.


Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?

  Who shall stand in his holy place?

The man with clean hands and pure heart,

  who desires not worthless things.


Such are the men who seek your face, O Lord.


He shall receive blessings from the Lord

  and reward from the God who saves him.

Such are the men who seek him,

  seek the face of the God of Jacob.


Such are the men who seek your face, O Lord.



Second Reading – 1 John 3:1-3 ©


We Shall be Like God Because We Shall See Him as He Really Is


Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us, by letting us be called God’s children; and that is what we are.


Because the world refused to acknowledge him, therefore it does not acknowledge us.


My dear people, we are already the children of God but what we are to be in the future has not yet been revealed; all we know is, that when it is revealed we shall be like him because we shall see him as he really is.


Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.



Gospel Acclamation – Matthew 11:28


Alleluia, alleluia!


Come to me, all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest, says the Lord.





The Gospel According to Matthew 5:1 – 12a ©


How Happy Are the Poor in Spirit


Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:


‘How happy are the poor in spirit; theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Happy the gentle: they shall have the earth for their heritage.


Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted.


Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right: they shall be satisfied.


Happy the merciful: they shall have mercy shown them.


Happy the pure in heart: they shall see God.


Happy the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God.


Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right: theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’



The Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year A)

All Saints Day, A Holy Day of Obligation


Saturday, October 31, 2020

Halloween - A Holiday Reflection

When I was young I imagined that Halloween was for children.


Halloween was all costumes and candy and imaginary play. It was as an escape from reality, an opportunity to gaze into another world, to pierce the veil of what is real and true.


We use to go block to block in our costumes, we called it Trick or Treating, we carried pillow cases slung over our shoulders, taking candies at nearly every door we knocked on, with nearly every bell we rang.


We scoffed at the people who only handed out little bibles or tubes of toothpaste, and shunned those who handed out home-made fare, thinking they were doing something good.


We would rather have nothing at all than have those things, and they quickly found their way into the trash; all those little popcorn balls, boxes of raisins, apples and bibles.


With fondness I recall the drill that came at the end of the night, searching through our candy piles, looking for suspicious things, open packages, search for pins and needles and razor blades.


We understood that some people hated children and would slip these into the candies.


I never found anything dangerous, never once in all of those years, but the fear that there could be, haunted us for real.


Halloween is not all fun and games, though, it has a deeper meaning than we were taught as children, and a much longer history.


Halloween is not just about ghosts and goblins and friendly witches.


In the celebration of Halloween an ages old conflict is present, a real struggle between the Christian Church, and the “Old Time Religion,” the customs of the pagans, paganus, pagani, the country folk and their persistent traditions that lurk just beneath the surface of the Christian rites.


On the Christian Calendar; Halloween is All Hallows Eve, a celebration of the honored dead, of all the saints who had passed before, who have already gone to meet the maker.


For the old pagans; whose traditions are tightly interwoven with the Church, Halloween is a celebration of the dead, plain and simple, of all of the dead, of the saints and sinners who have passed from this world together.


Halloween is an acknowledgment of the dead whose spirits walk among us still, good and bad, honored or not.


In modern times the holiday has been largely stripped from its affiliation with Christianity, celebrating the dangerous, the macabre, the frightening and the weird, those qualities and characteristics that every person hides within themselves, because they are in fear of the world.


I was fourteen the last time I went Trick or Treating, and really, I was only chaperoning my younger brother then, I was not dressed up, but I took some candy nonetheless.


In that same year I remember the Pastor at my church lamenting the popularity of the pagan festival. Believing that the Christian feast should be honored above it instead, to the exclusion of anything else.


There was no fun in that, there was no fun in him. He was just an old man watching his tradition fade away, being usurped by those of another generation, by children who were less committed to the Church than he was when at their age.   


In the years that followed, the number of children who go out in costumes seeking candy has declined by 25%, so the media outlets say.


Halloween is no longer considered safe or wholesome; it has yielded to the real dangers of the real world.


For me it is just another day, Halloween, I do not believe the dead walk with us. I have never seen a ghost, or any evidence of magic, as far as national holidays go, this one is an anomaly, though my maternal grandmother was born on this day.


There are real horrors in the world, we have a pumpkin colored demagogue for a president, spreading fear, night and day and lying to us at every turn. We are in the grip of a global Pandemic that is the claiming the life of an American citizen ever ninety seconds.


We are three days away from a national election where the prospect of reelecting this made man is all-too-real.


So now that I think about it, today of all days we should all be thankful that we have this day to luxuriate in the fantastic and the surreal.


Happy Halloween!