Last week, we talked about our upcoming transition to a new edition of the Missal, our prayerbook for Mass.
The Lord be with you. –-And with your spirit.
We will start using the new Missal on the First Sunday of…? Advent. November…? 27.
When we get together to pray and offer the Mass, the ceremony we perform has a special name: Liturgy. The word comes from ancient Greek and means “public work.” The common work we do together in church: the liturgy.
Our heavenly Father beckons us to do this work of prayer together. When it comes to adapting ourselves to this new Missal translation, maybe some of us are thinking, like the first son in the parable: “No! I will NOT re-learn how to go to Mass!”
Let’s think about it. The first son’s reply may have come from honest fatigue. Maybe he had intended to rest on that particular day. Maybe his lazy, good-for-nothing, con-artist brother had not done a lick of work for months or even years. Who knows? The second son may very well have had a good reason to resist his father’s directive.
…Here is a homily which some poor people had to endure on Sunday, All Saints Day:
Your reward will be great in heaven…You will be comforted…You will inherit the land…You will be satisfied…Mercy will be shown you…You will see God. (see Matthew 5:1-8)
These are Christ’s promises to us. Countless Christians have gone before us, and they have already seen these promises fulfilled. Today we salute the saints. They can attest that the Lord is faithful to His promises.
Up in heaven, the saints rejoice in the faithful goodness of God. Here are a few lines of their hymn:
Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever…Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne, and from the Lamb. (Revelation 7:10, 12)
The saints see the promises fulfilled, and they sing out praise to God. May our hymns harmonize with the hymn of the saints in heaven. We sing because we believe in the One who made the promises.
But before we get carried away, we have to pause. To whom did the Lord make His sweet promises?
The poor in spirit. They who mourn. The meek. The hungry and thirsty. The merciful. The clean of heart. The peacemakers.
This is what the saints were like when they were on earth: poor, merciful, meek, mourning, hungry, thirsty, pure-hearted peacemakers–like Christ Himself. Christ is the Blessed One, the Man of Promise. To be blessed, to inherit the promises, we must be like Him. We must be united with Him.
Every man who has hope based on Christ makes himself pure as He is pure (I John 3:3).
The saints have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14).
To receive the promises, we must be purified. To be like Christ, united with Him, we must be washed clean of sin.
We may be humble and poor in spirit, but not humble enough. We may mourn the evils of the world, but we do not mourn them enough. We may be meek, but not meek enough. We may hunger and thirst for righteousness, but we are not hungry and thirsty enough. We may be merciful to our brothers and sisters in this world, but not merciful enough. Our hearts may clean, but they are not clean enough. We may make peace sometimes, but nowhere near often enough.
At the moment after we were baptized, we were pure. For many of us, that was some time ago. Then it was God’s good pleasure to leave us on earth for a while. Our mission on earth is to do good and avoid evil, to be like Christ.
By God’s grace, we have done some good. We praise God for it. On the other hand, because we are weak and selfish, we have not always avoided evil. We have no one to blame for this but ourselves. The good is God’s, the evil is ours. The praise is God’s; the impurity is ours.
If only we could go back to the baptismal font, and get washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb again! If only we could meekly, mournfully approach the Prince of Peace—if only we could kneel before the Throne of Mercy, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and have our hearts cleaned and refreshed!
If only…if only? Would the all-merciful, all-loving Lord leave us high and dry, with no way back to His life-giving waters? Would He make promises that could never be fulfilled, because there was no way to purify ourselves so we could inherit them?
Of course He would not do that. What did He say to the first priests? He said: “Whoever’s sins you forgive are forgiven them…Whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
All Saints Day. Let’s consider the one thing that all the saints have in common. When they trod the earth, they were very different people. They became holy in different ways.
But they all confessed their sins. They were all humble enough to confess. They were not too proud. They were holy, but they knew they were not holy enough.
And they were not too proud to confess their sins to a priest. They were not too Protestantized to admit that the way God’s mercy works is by confessing to a priest.
So, let’s keep All Saints Day holy by singing our hymns of praise to God. Let’s echo the hymns of the saints as best we can. Let’s give the Lord all the praise and glory that are His. Let us salute the saints with joy. And let’s remember that the saints are the people who spent their lives confessing their sins.