Friday, October 30, 2009

All Saints Day Reflection

All Saints Day 2009

A Reflection by Rev. Bob Johnnene OFD
Mission Saints Sergius & Bacchus/ Franciscans of Divine Mercy
Reformed Catholic Church of New England
Based on the readings from: Apocalypse 7:2-4, 9-14, 1 John 3:1-3, Matthew 5:1-12

“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.” These words taken from the book of Revelation or Apocalypse describe the heavenly elect or Saints. The book begins with a count of how many are among the heavenly elect. “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.
St. John, who is purported to be the author of the apocalyptic book of revelation, used a number that in the time this book was written would have been considered as beyond imagination. I consider this to mean that every person who has died in Christ is a Saint which is why I often call upon the deceased members of my family who I believe lived according to God’s will to intercede to God on my behalf. It is not just those whom the church declares as saints because they gave their life rather than deny Christ like the patron saints of this ministry, Sergius & Bacchus, or declared Saints by the church because their lives were examples of living according to the teachings of Christ like St. Francis, Mother Therese of Calcutta, St. Damien of Molokai. Others have been declared saints because of there spirituality and dedication to fulfilling their call as servants of God.
The second reading for All Saints Day comes from the third book of John chapter 3 in which we read the following; “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.”, which tell me that if we try to live our lives in accord with the teachings of Christ, especially what Jesus called the greatest commandments; “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments all the Law and the Prophet depend." (Matthew 22:36-46)
The Gospel reading sums everything up by teaching us how to achieve becoming one of the heavenly elect. Often referred to as The Sermon on the Mount it says; “‘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.”
On this feast celebrating the lives of those women and men who followed Christ’s teachings, many to the death of their earthly bodies, let us examine ourselves as to what we have done or are doing to preach PEACE.
Back in the times of another unpopular war in our nation a group known as “Hippies” went around shouting “Make Peace and love, not war” they were treated with scorn by many and labeled “Flower Children”.
What we need to call to mind is that Jesus was also treated in the same way because He preached a way of life that was not the norm. It is one thing to give one’s life for love of God or to defend your country but so many today are giving their lives in a war that has been raging for more than 35 years and is tribal in nature. As followers of Christ we need to exert ourselves to bring about peace between all of God’s children. Not only between nations, but religious denomination, neighbors, local governing officials and ALL of God’s children.
Another issue that we, as a people of God, need to give serious consideration to is equality and justice and the well being of ALL God’s children and one issue is the current debate on a National Health Policy.
My question is why should our tax dollars be used to provide a select few the finest of health coverage when so many who pay into the tax base are deprived the same kind of health coverage. Where is the justice, compassion, fairness, and equality that we as Christians and followers of Christ’s teachings are supposed to practice?
Many of those who oppose a National health policy do so because they may loose some of the profits and dividends they receive from owning stock in Insurance companies. Others oppose simply because their political party is not in control and they do not want the party in power to be able to achieve the promises that got them elected by a majority of citizens.
Again it is all about power, profit and glory and not about what is right, just, compassionate and fair for ALL people. As Christians, the glory we should be seeking is the Glory of God by living the Sermon on the Mount by caring for the poor, aged and sick.
The Saints who achieved a higher level of spirituality and favor in the eyes of God did so by giving of themselves often by dying because of their love of God or, like St. Francis of Assisi, Mother Therese of Calcutta or St. Damien of Molokai, spent their lives serving those whom society rejected.
On this feast celebrating All The Saints let us call to mind the words of Christ, “I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’ For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” ( Matthew 9:13) and “‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.” ( Matthew 12:7) and from the book of Zechariah 7:9 “"Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another”
On this feast commemorating those who achieved the highest level of spirituality let us commit ourselves to work harder putting into action the Beatitudes and the Corporal Works of Mercy as we live out our earthly existence in the hope of attaining eternal life with God and the Heavenly Elect. AMEN

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