Feast Of All Saints
Wednesday, November 1, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for Wednesday, 30th Week of Ordinary Time: https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings
(Feast day reflection; daily reflection follows).
Lectionary no. 667 (Rv 7: 2-4, 9-14; Ps 24: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6; 1Jn 3: 1-3; Mt 5: 1-12a)
The Responsorial (Psalm 24) identifies us: “Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.”
The readings focus us on the blessing of the Good News; not as just beginning—“The Kingdom of heaven has come near”—but as brought to fulfillment. This feast is a victory celebration. As is the Rite of Communion at Mass (Matthew 4:17; 10:7; Revelation 19:9).
Revelation 7:2-14 places us at the “end time” among those who are redeemed:
A great multitude that no one could count, from every nation... standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.
The palm “in Christian liturgy and art has become the symbol of the martyr,” a symbol of victory over death, celebrated in the Rite of Communion as the blessing of all the redeemed: “Blessed are those invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (John McKenzie, S.J., Dictionary of the Bible).
These... have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Death is a “great ordeal” for everyone. It is the “greatest free moment of life,” and also the most challenging. In death we literally renounce all we have and are attached to, in order to say “Yes!”— willingly—to God calling us to himself. In this “Yes!” our faith, hope, and love are brought to perfection.
1John 3:1-3 tells us this:
We are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
To “see him as he is” we first have to accept in total faith that he is as the Scripture says he is. And trust in total hope, based on Jesus’ promises, that in union with him we find everything and everyone from whom death seems to separate us. In short, in saying “Yes” to death, we love God as All, obeying for the first time, fully and irrevocably, the First Commandment:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).
We accepted this already in Baptism, when we said “Yes” to dying “in Christ” on the cross and rising out of the waters of his blood a “new creation.” Our first “Yes” to death is completed in our final one (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1010).
Matthew 5:1-12: The “beatitudes” reverse the values we learn from the “world” of our culture. If we take them at face value, we realize we don’t initially believe any of them. We don’t believe we are “blessed” to know we are inadequate; to be grieving; powerless; focused on “holiness” over “practical” things; acknowledging relationship with everyone; unwilling to compromise our ideals; willing to die rather than to kill; and glad to pay the price of all this in a society that finds it insane. (Reread the Beatitudes; this is what they say). But in truth, the Beatitudes are our blessing. To grasp the Good News is to know this.
Action: Count your blessings. Use Christ’s words to identify them.
Jesus: The Guiding Star of Life
The Responsorial Psalm pinpoints the source of our hope: “My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy” (Psalm 13).
In Romans 8: 26-30 Paul is saying that salvation is the work of God and a gift.
It is clear in Scripture and Catholic teaching that God offers everyone the grace to be saved. He “desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1Timothy 2:4). But Paul gives a progression: “Those God foreknew he also predestined… called… justified… glorified.” It stands to reason that if God foresees that someone is not going to accept greater graces, God will not offer them (Matthew 7:6). But those whom he foresees will respond, he chooses as he chose Paul “from his mother’s womb” (Galatians 1:15). He “calls” them, “justifies” and “glorifies” them. Paul wants us to know that all is God’s gift: notice it and celebrate it:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who … chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love…. He destined us for adoption as his children… according to the good pleasure of his will” (Ephesians 1: 3-5).
We must always give thanks to God for you… because God chose you as the first fruits for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. For this purpose he called you through our proclamation of the good news, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2Thessalonians 2: 13-14).
We should listen, then, to the Holy Spirit, who prays in our hearts “with inexpressible groanings.” Salvation is God’s ongoing work within us. Our part is to join in and cooperate as faithful stewards of his gift of love. “My hope, O Lord, is in your mercy.”
In Luke 13: 22-30 Jesus warns us that when God calls, we must respond in a timely manner and come to him by God’s path, not ours. There are many ways to live but only one leads to the fullness of life: the way of Jesus, who is “the Way the Truth and the Life” (John 14:6).
Jesus is the “narrow gate” in the same way that the mathematical concept of a straight line is the narrowest thing there is, having no breadth at all. The Christian path is not a channel identified by laws like buoy markers, that make it broader or narrower by being stricter or looser. We set our course by steering toward the “fixed star,” which is Jesus. To be “on course” is to be looking at Jesus, whose way of acting, words, deeds and principles “constitute the moral rule of Christian life” (John Paul II). Any deviation puts us off course. To get back we look at him. “My hope is in your mercy.”
Action: Be Christ’s steward. Accept salvation as a gift and “love back.”
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry