Monday, November 1, 2010

Solemnity of All Saints: Sharing in the Legacy of Those Who Have Gone Before Us in Faith, Hope, and Love

The readings associated with the Solemn feast day Mass of All Saints (Revelations. 7:2-4; 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12a) offers what I believe is a "roadmap" for connecting with the holy ones who have gone before us by sharing in the legacy of faith, hope, and love that they have left us. This solemn feast day is observed not only to recall the "memory" of the holy ones who have preceded us but is meant to forge a "bridge" of communion with them through our own participation in the values that they lived by.

The reading from the Book of Revelation starts the readings of the Mass off in dramatic fashion by painting an awesome picture of the multitude of God's elect that cannot be numbered and who come from all corners of the earth and every "race, nation, people, and tongue" (depicted in the above drawing by Ira Thomas). The reading continues with the innumerable elect singing a praise of victory to "God and the Lamb." The overall themes that can be extracted from the reading is that God's saving power is universal in scope and that God will ultimately be victorious over the forces of death and evil.

The second reading from the First Letter of John describes how all persons are called by divine decree to be "children of God." As profound a gift and call as this is, the author tells us that it gets even better: "beloved, we are God's children now, what we shall yet be has not been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." To grasp the significance of this statement, permit me to bring in one of the "big guns" of contemporary Catholic theology. Karl Rahner, a famous Jesuit priest and theologian of the latter part of the 20th century, had this to say about God's saving grace: "The Giver is himself the Gift." In other words, God's grace is God's very self! Therefore, to be "God's children" is to be drawn into the same filial embrace shared by God and Christ in the Holy Spirit.

Finally, the Gospel reading from Matthew lays out for us the teaching of the beatitudes. The beatitudes describe the kind of dispositions that are necessary and non-negotiable for humbly and graciously receiving the "Giver who is himself the Gift": poverty of spirit, empathy, meekness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, peacemaking, and willingness to endure persecution for the sake of God's reign.

The "roadmap" that these readings lay out for us in connecting with the legacy of the multitude of the Holy One's who have gone before us and who continue interceding for us is the faith to actively engage the forces of death and sin (believing that they will be ultimately overcome); the hope that God's saving outreach applies to all and that we are children of God (destined to share in the self-same glory of the Son); and the love to graciously and humbly receive and share God's grace (embracing the "Giver who is himself the Gift.") Pat, TOR


Tom & Joanne's Spot said...

Great reflection. I loved how you weaved the theological virtues of faith, hope and love to your final paragraph.

Deacon Tom