Our back-to-back feasts of All Saints and All Souls challenge us to practice what we preach.
All Saints is a flamboyant type of feast, reminding us of our destiny on the one hand and of our role in the here and now.
In the good old, bad old days one might have heard of ‘The Church Triumphant’ and ‘The Church Militant.’
Those of us here and now had a battle on our hands, but we were assured victory and access to the beatific vision if we persevered.
All Souls is a more pensive and reflective type of feast.
We easily lapse into reverie about our deceased loved ones and reminisce about what they brought into our lives, and what is missing in our lives since they departed.
With not too much coaxing we can end up self-absorbed and re-visiting grief.
But is it not appropriate to seek some consolation on this day each year?
It is if it eventually leads us to hope and renews our trust in a God who loves us and who can be counted on to bring to perfection the work begun in us.
“What does God want from me?” is thought or said in one form or another when we experience great loss, particularly when a loved one dies. Paradoxically, our scripture today informs us that God wants us to “imitate in the world the kindness of God toward the world.” (Sacra Pagina: The Gospel of Luke, Luke Timothy Johnson, p.112)
But let me back up a bit and look again at today’s readings,
Who among us does not feel powerless in the face of forces of nature?
Be it earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, wildfires or tornadoes, we are easily overwhelmed physically and emotionally.
Even when we see and hear reports of these things in the news we readily go into ‘compassion fatigue’ and seek out emotional escape in a re-run of Everybody Loves Raymond.
Likewise, we feel overwhelmed by political forces in our world or in our own Congress.
In the world in which our scripture was written, it was common to place the cause of one’s fortunes on cosmic forces, be they sea monsters or heavenly orbs.
The letter to the Ephesians today talks about “the immeasurable greatness of God’s power for us who believe …” and goes on to say,
“God put this power to work in Christ,
raised him from the dead
and seated him at the right side in the heavenly places,
far above all rule and authority
and power and dominion,
and above every name that is named,
not only in this age
but also in the age to come.
And God has put all things under Christ’s feet
and has made him the head over all things for the church,
which is Christ’s body,
the fullness of the one who fills all in all.”
So we are told to believe or trust that our God, the God of Jesus, is immeasurably more powerful than all those things and energies and dynamics that seem out of control and threatening.
How do we tap into that power and come to believe in it?
Through our communion in and with Christ Jesus.
Through our communion with one another here and now.
Through our communion with those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith who now rest in peace.
If we see ourselves as table companions with Jesus, then we inherit the power bestowed on him by Yahweh.
That is who we are as Church.
And that power of Jesus in us compels us to reach out beyond our own fear and doubt and grief to embrace a world that is poor and hungry and weeping and hating and pronounce a blessing.
To quote a recent pilgrim to our own shores who spoke to Roman Catholic catechists and pastors in Dallas and Miami recently, “__________”
“The Church receives the mission to proclaim and to spread among all peoples the Kingdom of Christ and of God” (LG 5). If the Church has a mission at all, it is to manifest the deeds of Jesus. The Church has never been her own goal. Salvation comes from Jesus, not from the Church. The Church is mediation; it is not an end in herself or of herself. She has never served a different Lord. That is the reason why Pope Francis is telling us that we have to reach out to the removed; we have to reach out to the periphery of the world, to the new missionary frontiers of the contemporary world.
The calling of the Church, in the likeness of Jesus, is to proclaim the Kingdom of God. Even Christ himself did not proclaim or preach Himself, but the Kingdom. The Church, as His disciple and His servant, ought to do the same. Her calling is to serve, not to rule: “Servant of Humanity,” called her Pope Paul VI. She must do this service living in the world, herself a part of the world and in solidarity with it, because “the world is the only subject that interests God.”
– THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NEW EVANGELIZATION
Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga SDB
Archbishop of Tegucigalpa
University of Dallas Ministry Conference
Irving Convention Center
25 October 2013
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Ruler of heaven and earth, through your saints you have given us the courage to follow after your Son, help us to imitate the example of the saints who show us the way to Christ, we pray …
The lives of your saints have given testimony to your Son, Christ Jesus, through their example may we draw closer to him, we pray …
O God, source of all that is holy, you have let your holiness shine in many marvelous ways through the lives of your saints, help us to celebrate your greatness in them, we pray …
Your saints now see you face to face – keep alive in our hearts the hope of coming at last into your presence, we pray …
Bring all who have died into the company of heaven with Mary, Joseph and all your saints – and give us also a place in the unending fellowship of your reign, we pray …
Mother and Father of us all, in the Eucharistic sacrifice you unite us more fully with those who now live in your reign, by our frequent sharing in the body and blood of your Son bring us to the company of the eternal banquet, we pray …
Merciful Mother and Father,
hear our prayers and console us.
As we renew our faith in your Son,
whom you raised from the dead,
strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters
will share in his resurrection,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.