October 31, 2016

HOMILY FOR NOVEMBER 1ST - SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS


HOMILY FOR NOVEMBER 1ST - SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS

by Fr. Tommy Lane

We are celebrating today all the saints, not just canonized saints, but all those who enjoy the happiness of heaven, whether canonized or not, and we hope that our loved ones, relations, and friends are among the saints of heaven who now enjoy the happiness promised by the beatitudes in the Gospel today (Matt 5:1-12). The first reading (Rev 7) was John’s vision of heaven and today we celebrate all those who have arrived home in heaven.
A child was walking through a cemetery one day with his granddad. Puzzled by the gravestones he asked his granddad. His granddad said, “These people were living in those houses. Then God called them and now they’re living in God’s house.” The boy said, “And this is where they left their clothes.” What better way could we explain passing from this life to the next? (This story is from a recording by Fr. Jack McArdle, Dublin)
This is another way to explain. At the bottom of the pond little grubs were crawling around. They wonder what happens to their members who climb up the stem of the lily and never come back. “I wonder what its like up there.” They agree among themselves that the next one who is called to the surface will come back. The next little grub that finds itself drawn to the surface by nature crawls up the stem and out on the surface on the lily leaf. It was really bright up there. It had been so dark and murky down below. They won’t believe this. Suddenly something begins to happen. The grub begins to open out. The grub spreads out two huge beautiful colored wings and becomes a beautiful dragonfly. It never imagined that this could have happened. It thought it would remain a grub forever. It flew back and forth across the pond. It could see the other grubs in the pond below but they couldn’t see it. It realized there was no way it could get back and that they would not recognize such a beautiful creature as ever having been one of them. (This story is from a recording by Fr. Jack McArdle, Dublin) That helps to explain the second reading today where John wrote
“we are already 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.” (1 John 3:2)
As children of God we have a glorious future because God in his goodness and generosity wants to share his love and life with us.
We view the church as being in three states, the church here on earth, the souls in Purgatory and the saints in heaven. We believe that we are all united, the living, the souls in Purgatory and the saints in heaven, around Jesus’ cross and resurrection. This is the communion of saints that we profess our faith in during the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in the Holy Spirit
the holy Catholic Church
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.

Believing in the communion of saints means believing that the saints in heaven are praying for us, including own relatives who we hope now share fully in the happiness of God’s kingdom. How often we hear people saying their deceased relatives have granted them favors from heaven when they prayed to them. I would like to read to you a true story about a departed husband helping his wife and child.
“Her husband had died a few years before, and she had a young son who was born just before his father’s death. One day when her son was at a neighbor’s house, she suddenly sensed her husband was speaking to her. He seemed to be telling her that their son was drowning in a swimming pool. She ran next door to the neighbor’s and found her son drowning in the pool, exactly as she sensed her husband telling her. She pulled her son out of the pool, just in time to save his life.
Why does this story move us so deeply? A story about a child’s life being saved is certainly moving, but this story contains something more. A dead father is still there for his child, at the moment when he is needed most.”(From Healing the Greatest Hurt page 144 by Matthew & Denis Linn and Sheila Fabricant and published by Paulist Press and used here with permission.) (More stories about the faithful departed and death)
Those who have had near death experiences say that part of their experience was being welcomed to the other side by their departed loved ones. People who have had such near death experiences are no longer afraid of dying. Our belief in the Communion of Saints means that we are all united around Jesus’ cross and resurrection, our departed praying for us, and we praying for our departed who may not yet have reached heaven.
Few of us, and most likely none of us, by the time we die, will be saints ready for heaven. But we believe that if we are not ready, we will have an opportunity in Purgatory after death to be purified, to admit our need for God, to admit that only he can help us, and to make amends for sins committed if we have not already done so. The most beautiful description of Purgatory I have found is “a hospital where we learn how to love and forgive.” We are celebrating today all those who have been purified, who learned how to love and forgive, and so entered heaven and who now enjoy the happiness and blessedness of the beatitudes we heard in the Gospel (Matt 5:1-2). Our departed loved ones in heaven and those who are still being purified are praying for us. During this Mass we thank God for those whom he has already welcomed to heaven. During November we pray especially for those who are still being purified in Purgatory because we believe that our prayers can help them. We are all of us, living and dead, united around the cross and resurrection of Jesus.
“we are already 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.” (1 John 3:2)

I believe in the Holy Spirit
the holy Catholic Church
the communion of saints
the forgiveness of sins
the resurrection of the body
and life everlasting.