31st Sunday In Ordinary Time
31 October 2010
St. Lawrence Catholic Center
Here are some short takes and reminders and exhortations on Halloween/All Saints Day, and the Scriptures for the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time
- When Halloween lands on a Sunday, Mass attendance suffers, especially here at KU, where we have Sunday evening Masses, and where we have college students pumped up for their Halloween parties. We even have a Halloween party at the rectory tonight, which is simultaneous with our last Mass. Halloween is king. It is a widely popular holiday, and a very American one and a very fun one at that. Yet it should not eclipse All Saints Day. Halloween should enhance our faith, not take away from it, since it is not really a pagan holiday, but a holiday that coincides with the great Solemnity of All Saints. When we think Halloween, we should think All Saints. We should also think about All Souls, and whenever we see a ghost or a goblin, we should remember with devotion and prayer those poor souls who need us, those who are making that final journey from being good to being holy, the journey of purgatory. Let us not forget to pray for them, or even to come to the All Souls Day Masses at 5:15pm and 7pm to remember our beloved dead and to pray for them.
- All Saints, as we should know, is normally a holy day of obligation, but with its falling on a Monday this year, the obligation is abrogated. Still, we should not let November 1st go by without reminding ourselves of our opportunity and our obligation to become saints ourselves. There is not other option for the Christian. Either become a saint, or else. Christianity does not produce nice guys. It is there to produce saints. In particular, we remember those who have inspired us not simply to be good, but those who inspire us to be great, those who inspire us to be holy. We praise God for the saints, especially those not canonized by the Church, who have touched our lives personally and strengthened our faith and kept us believing in ourselves. All Saints day is a day to remember our destiny in heaven, and to claim our citizenship there, and to remember that with God all things are possible, even our own sanctity.
- As we enter into a new round of political elections, it is easy to get discouraged because of all the intransience. It seems like we are stuck, that we are bickering, and that there is gridlock between people who will not compromise. Yet we are to remember that the world is changed the most not by politicians, but by saints. When we do not have saints representing us in political office, then we have gridlock, because saints always find a way forward. Saints are never stuck, and never discouraged. We must approach the political process ourselves as saints, not giving in to complacency but becoming more involved through prayer and advocacy in finding people who can build a nation that will promote the common good of all people, a place where faith, hope and love can flourish. As Catholics, we have the special privilege of having our Church help to form our conscience through Her strong moral teaching. Whenever we are a Church or nation are tempted to settle for anything less than life and anything less than the truth, our Church will be there to make Her voice heard and to form our consciences. Our Church will always have a voice and will always speak out on behalf of the most vulnerable. Our Church will never tell us who we must vote for, but She reminds us that we must vote, and She reminds us that insofar as we as a nation get fundamental things wrong, like abortion, we should not consider it likely that we will get other things right. We should not elect politicians who are all talk and no substance, even if they claim to be pro-life, but we should look especially for politicians who are committed to protecting the sanctity of human life especially of the most vulnerable, before looking at the other issues that they stand for.
- October 31st is not only Halloween, it is also a very sad day historically, a day when Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on a church door in Germany. October 31st is the beginning of the endless splintering of Christianity. It is because of the sins of the Church, the scandal caused by those who have quit trying to be holy, that a split was possible then, and the splits in Christianity continue today. Indeed, because of the scandal caused by all of us not living our faith with courage and integrity, many people see Christianity as hypocrisy, and the lack of unity we have is the biggest deterrent to others knowing and accepting the love that Jesus Christ has for them. Once again, the reason Christianity keeps splintering is the same reason that the world is a mess. Christianity is not producing enough saints. It is saints who move us forward It is saints who create unity. It is saints that change the world.
- The story of Zaccheus shows us that sainthood is possible for anyone. Zaccheus is a wee little man, not only in physical stature. His sins have also made him small. He is a small man in every way, who lives only for Himself and His greed. In seeing Zaccheus, we should take our own sins very seriously, lest we become small ourselves, and only a remnant of what we always promised ourselves we would be.
- Still, as evil as Zaccheus was, the light was not extinguished in him. He still had a desire to change. As many bad habits as he had working against him, there was still a way for him to be holy. There was still a way for him to be a saint. There was still a way for him to be like Jesus, to make a perfect gift of himself in love. Yet Zaccheus had to listen to this voice of conscience inside him. He had to respond to that glimmer of hope deep within him that he could still be great. He had to climb that tree.
- What happens next is all Jesus. Jesus invited Himself into the house of Zaccheus. In this way, he gives Zaccheus the chance to be like Mary. This is the key of conversion for all of us. Before we can hope to act like Jesus, we must receive Him like Mary. Zaccheus, like Mary, receives Jesus under his roof.
- This is really the only step we need to take. Once Jesus comes under our roof, like He does in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus takes over. Holiness is being like Mary. It is allowing Jesus to come and stay with us. The conversion we see in Zaccheus is impossible unless it is Jesus Himself accomplishing it within Zaccheus. Most of us tinker with our lives. We make small adjustments here and there. We concentrate on what more we need to do to be holy. But holiness is the Lord's work. It is not our tinkering. It is not our doing more. It is our doing less. It is our becoming like Mary, so that it is not so much us living anymore, it is Jesus acting in us and with us and through us. When we allow Jesus to come under our roof, holiness is possible for us, because Jesus' perfections can be born anew within us.