At the end of this week we have two feasts the feast of All Saints on Friday and the feast of All Souls on the Saturday. On November 1st the Church celebrates all the saints: and the great multitude of those who are in heaven enjoying the beatific vision that are only known to God. During the early centuries the Saints venerated by the Church were all martyrs. Later the 1st November was set as the day for commemorating all the Saints. We all have this “universal call to holiness.” What must we to do in order to join the company of the saints in heaven? We “must follow Jesus footsteps and try to conform ourselves to His image as we seek to do the will of the Father in all things. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is admirably shown by the life of so many saints in Church history” (Lumen Gentium) The feast of All Saints should inspire us with tremendous hope.
Among the saints in heaven are some people whom we have known such as Pope Saint John Paul or Padre Pio who both lived in the last 100 years. Padre Pio died in 1968 and of course John Paul died in 2005. But there are so many ordinary people who show us how to be saints by the way they lead their lives and we try to follow their example as well. After rejoicing with the saints in heaven on November 2nd we pray for all those souls who in the purifying suffering of purgatory await the day when they will join the company of saints. in a special Part of the eucharistic prayer the priest remembers all those who have fallen asleep in the Lord, the priest implores God to grant them a place of happiness, light and peace. In a special way we remember our families and friends who have passed on and we also remember all those who have died whoever they are throughout the whole month of November which is known as the month of the Holy Souls. So at the end of this week we pray with the saints in heaven as we remember all who have died may they rest in the peace of the kingdom of God.
It is hard to believe that we are almost at the end of October with the schools in our locality having the midterm break for Halloween next week. It is also hard to believe that next Friday we celebrate the feast of All Saints closely followed by all souls the next day. The readings in our Liturgy for this weekend are all about the HUMBLE person of faith that God calls all of us to be in our own time and place. That means that we shouldn’t lose the run of ourselves when dealing with people and the situations that we might find ourselves.
What does the Gospel Reading about the tax collector and the Pharisee say to us today ? Also and I think more importantly what about the words of the Tax Collector who said in a simple humble way God be merciful to me a sinner what do these humble words say to us? I think that the Tax Collector despised by the people because of the job he does (nobody likes the tax man even now) is saying to us that we need to have the humility to be humble before God who knows that we are sinners even before we say it and we also have to be humble with other people dealing with them with real humility.
Real humility is about facing the truth about the person we are and often times we don’t like to hear the truth about ourselves or any situations we might be in. The person who is truly humble will always see pride in him or herself as a bad thing. The person who is humble believes him/herself to have nothing, when in fact he has God, who is for him and in him! The person who knows how to be dependent on God humbles himself so much, putting himself in his proper place before his Creator, that God cannot leave him in this state: the Lord lifts him up to his own Glory in order to make him his adopted child. In a word, he who humbles himself, God justifies! The more someone makes himself small in the eyes of god, the more the Lord is pleased to come and live in him and to make him shine with his divine light before other people. In our modern world, Pride which was very strong in the words the Pharisee spoke dominates the world, and it is this pride which often leads many people the world over down a long lonely path. The old saying rings true that pride comes before a fall and we see this in so many places and situations we might find ourselves or perhaps we have seen other people in. Today, the same as every other Sunday, we shall receive within us Jesus in the sacrament of the Eucharist. We shall approach the altar of the Lord with humble hearts and minds. This approach testifies at once to our humility and to our grandeur.
It testifies to our humility, for we humble in believing that what we see as bread is not bread but rather the Body of Christ. It testifies to our grandeur, for, in communion, we truly become the Body of Christ, adoptive sons and daughters in the only Son of God! May this approach be our justification, for the salvation of the world! I finish with these words from Micah which really sum up the gospel reading for this Sunday and what does the Lord require of us? He requires us To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God? The Lord requires us in the same way to be just, kind in our dealings with other people and to walk humbly with our god so let us go forth into the world with true humility in our hearts and minds so we are able to serve those who need us most where we are.
This Weekend we celebrate the international missionary effort of the Church throughout the world. Here in Ireland for many centuries there have been so many great Irishmen and women who have gone to foreign lands to bring the faith of our fathers to those who might not have got the faith otherwise. The same faith that was brought to us in our turn by the missionary efforts of Saint Patrick many years ago. This Sunday celebrates the great missionary spirit that has brought the faith to all corners of the world over so many years. we remember all those who have gone into the mission fields from all the countries of the world, members of the religious orders such as the Columbans, Mill Hill Fathers, St. Patrick’s Kilteegan Fathers the Medical Missionaries of Mary and all the other religious orders who along with the Lay Missionary movements such as Viatores Christi have brought Christ and the light of his message to the far corners of the world.
Mission was understood as going abroad, to countries where the Church was not yet strong or to places where people suffered from poverty or conflict. This is indeed still necessary and valid today and we pray people will continue to give their lives to mission in this way. Mission was also seen as the task primarily of priests and religious, with a few lay missionaries, and their work was and is still supported by the generosity of the people especially those at home. Mission is essentially faith in action, and to this we as baptised are all called to be missionaries at home where we are. There are many ways in which people live mission today, both at home and overseas. These include being involved in action to prevent trafficking, various kinds of social and community work with the poor and marginalised, reaching out to refugees and migrants and action to care for the earth. Some of those people who are engaged in these activities may not profess a formal Christian faith, but it is evident that their activities are inspired by Gospel values and they are promoting the reign of God.
Mission Sunday gives us an opportunity to ask ourselves what is our mission perhaps we should be asking ourselves what are we doing to promote the kingdom of god where we are and do we support those engaged in mission activity by our prayers and other help. Mission Sunday gives us the opportunity to thank god for the faith that we have as well as acknowledging and thanking god for all those faithful missionary men and women who left everything in order to bring the faith and the light of Christ to the far corners of the world. We pray that the Lord of the harvest will continue to inspire many people to join the missionary effort both at home and abroad as we go forward with faith .
This Sunday our readings are all about gratitude and the attitude of gratitude in our Gospel Reading we hear the story of the ten Lepers and their lack of gratitude for their healing. This is one of many such examples of ingratitude that occurred during Christ’s public ministry, most of those he cured forget to thank him. In today’s incident there was one who had the decency to return and thank his benefactor, and he was the one least expected to do so. This pleased our Lord and led Him to remark on the ingratitude of the others. This Gospel story is not only about the Lepers it’s also about our lack of gratitude for the many good things that we have in our lives given to us by God. When we were youngsters growing up we were taught to say, “Thank you” by our parents when they gave us a sweet or whatever, when we didn’t we would be dutifully reminded, “What do you say?” and of course we said the magic words ‘Thank You.’
All the lepers showed great faith and confidence in Jesus’ power to heal but only one of them said thanks. They had not heard Him preach nor had they seen any of His miracles. They lived in isolation camps because of the leprosy, yet they believed the reports they had heard. The nine lepers were appreciative of what Jesus had done; we don’t know, why they didn’t bother to show their gratitude to Jesus. We can only look to ourselves to ask why we are often reluctant to say thank you for all the good things we have. There is seems to be great deal of awkwardness surrounding the attitude of gratitude and saying thank you. Personally I find that to be thanked means more to me than being given a gift for a task just done. Whatever the reason for our own ingratitude, we know that it diminishes us and those who help us. All of us have reasons to give thanks for so many things yet very few turn to the Lord with words and hearts expressing our thanks for all the wonders he has done for us in our lives. Do we have the attitude of gratitude which thanks god and those around and us for their goodness to us.
When we gather each Sunday we come to join God in the midst of the assembly with gratitude in our hearts. We give praise and thanks to God and we thank him for all those who have given us their help. May all of us have the attitude of gratitude for all the good things that we have in our lives which means that we are thankful for all that we are and all that we have especially in these times when so many have little or nothing at all.
This week we began the extraordinary month of Mission, October is the month when we pray for the missionary’s who bring the gospel message to those in other countries so that the people there will have faith in Jesus and what he teaches us. The Gospel for this Sunday is made up of two apparently unrelated sayings of Jesus, one dealing with the gift of faith and the other a very stark and challenging reminder to the apostles of the call to service they have received as people sent by God to share in Jesus’ mission of proclaiming the Good News. We might be tempted to skip over such ‘hard sayings’ but we are asked to listen to them because the Gospel always liberates us from false ideas about ourselves and God and that can only be a good thing.
So many people have little or no faith and many who have been brought up in the catholic faith have left for many reasons. Perhaps we think that having faith means believing certain things. Thinking our faith is small can keep us from doing so many things that we are called to do by our faith in Jesus the Son of God. The disciples must have thought their faith was so small they couldn’t act on it. But Jesus wants his disciples and by association ourselves to trust and act on our god given faith.
The alternative to acting out of faith would be saying things like: I can’t take on that responsibility, I don’t have enough faith. I can’t be kind to those people that will take more faith than I have. The disciples may have felt similar inhibitions after hearing what Jesus just taught about not leading others into sin and the necessity to forgive someone seven times a day (17 1-5). But Jesus teaches, “Act on the little faith you have. You’ll be surprised what you can do.” His example of the deep-rooted mulberry tree underlines his lesson to us about the power of the smallest seed of faith to work marvels. We may find ourselves doing something that surprises us and those who know us. Perhaps it’s a great act of charity; working away on another’s behalf; or, an act of forgiveness. Such deeds often win praise among those around us. But despite the remarkable things we might do, we must acknowledge the source of all our good deeds the mustard seed that is faith planted in us by God. Realising this we can say with those servants in the parable: “We are unprofitable servants, we have done what we were obliged to do.” We could also add: “We have only done what the mustard seed of our faith has enabled us to do. “God gives us the grace to do great things in his name.
As we pray for our faith to be strengthened we thank god for all those people who helped us to have faith in the first place, our parents, families, teachers, friends and our clergy throughout our lives all of them played their part in giving us the faith. Although Christ was speaking to the Apostles, His words apply to all of us, in our own lives here and now. Following the example of the Apostles, we must all pray for greater trust and faith in God and his love for all of us.