The Solemnity of All Saints today reminds us of who we are and what a bright future can be ours. As we celebrate today all the saints, both those canonized and those who are unknown, we are joyful that they have reached the goal of life, heaven. They remind us to keep our sights fixed high, to remember who we are and the glorious possibility that God offers us.
The saints encourage us in our own struggles because like us they also endured struggles, they grew from strength to strength, they matured in the Lord as they grew in years.
The publican went home at rights with God; the Pharisee did not.
A few weeks ago (22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time) we had a Gospel about humility in social life – today we hear the Lord reiterating the message, but this time in reference to our prayer lives. The two Gospels are linked by the last words today, which also appear in the other story: “Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” This phrase is obviously a key part of our Lord’s teaching! The sin of “self-exaltation” consists in putting others in a lower place – as the Pharisee does to the tax collector. Perhaps the most telling phrase in today’s Gospel is where Jesus refers to the Pharisee saying “this prayer to himself,” rather than offering it to God! And since the Pharisee wasn’t talking to God, how could he expect to be heard?
ALL SAINTS DAY
in honour of S John Henry Newman
...you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land... You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, "Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us. The priest will take the basket from your hand and place it before the altar of the LORD your God.’
Scripture and Tradition are clear about the existence of the angels. Though Scripture mentions angels over 200 times, only three are mentioned by name. They are the Archangels whose feast we celebrate today: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael.
Through the intercession of St. Raphael may all who suffer from loneliness or sickness know the healing graces of our loving God.
Through the intercession of St. Gabriel, may God’s strength be with all those who work for the Spread of the Gospel.
And through the intercession of St. Michael, may all who are persecuted for the faith be protected against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
You cannot be the slave both of God and money.
How easy to take the words of Jesus out of context: Use money to win you friends, is one of those lines that sounds strange to us outside the context of the parable and the teaching in todays Gospel. Even the parable itself can seem a little strange is Jesus really recommending that we act like dishonest stewards? No, of course not! The point that reveals this is hidden half way down: The children of this world are more astute in dealing with their own kind Jesus in a way praises the effort of the dishonest steward, but wishes that it was directed less to worldly things, but to the things of heaven. And this is the message that we are to take: where do we direct our energies to making money, fame, fortune and success, or to finding friends in heaven?
0900. Morning Prayer
1000. PARISH MASS
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The Cross of Christ is a paradox: It is precisely in dying to ourselves that we are reborn. It is through dying to ourselves that we find our true self, made in the image and likeness of God. It is through dying to ourselves that we are finally able to love God and others. It is through dying to ourselves that we finally find peace and true joy. It is through dying to ourselves that we are no longer obsessed with ourselves!
By accepting the cross we no longer fear suffering or death. By dying to ourselves, carrying our cross, and following Christ, we can become one with Him.
The Cross is not just the symbol of Christianity, it is the essence of Christianity. Every Orthodox Christian wears a cross around their neck and would never be without his cross. There is an old Russian saying, when someone misbehaves: “he acts likes like he doesn’t have a cross.”
THE SUNDAY LITURGY
None of you can be my disciple unless he gives up all his possessions.
This is a very difficult set of readings. The Gospel itself starts with a saying which many find hard to understand: must we really hate our family to be the Lords disciples? The point is that it is relative: what are we prepared to give up for the Gospel? Are we going to try and make our own cross, or accept whatever we are given? Jesus is probably trying to discourage the crowd of sensation seekers and hangers-on who are crowing round him. He wants real disciples, who are aware of the possible cost: not like the incompetent builder, or the useless king. To be a disciple, one must be prepared to follow Jesus anywhere, whatever it might cost in possessions, family or friends. We may never understand why, but then, who can know the intentions of God?
Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted.
Humble behaviour is the mark of the Christian, as it always was the mark of someone “in favour with the Lord.” In the Gospel, we see Jesus watching the Pharisees: it’s almost amusing to picture them shuffling for the best places, the polite “After you!” to put themselves in a better position. How would they have reacted to his teaching? They may well have remembered the passage we read from the Old Testament, and realised that Jesus was teaching the teachers something they should be well aware of.
It’s probably a nightmare we all share to some degree or other - being locked out of the house, the sales, the big match, or missing the train, the boat or plane. Contemplating watching the crowds that have got inside, while we can do nothing, can be unnerving. Complacency can leave us in this situation: today the Lord warns all who listen to him to be careful, taking nothing for granted, but making sure that we are (spiritually at least) like the people waiting with their sleeping bags and thermos flasks by the front door of the ticket office.
ALL SAINTS CHURCH
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