Homily for the Feast of All Saints YEAR A (1)

Homily for the Feast of All Saints YEAR A

Theme: SAINTHOOD AND HOLINESS CHALLENGE

By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka

 

Homily for Sunday November 1 2020

R1 – Rev 7:2-4, 9-14
RESP. PS. – PS. 24:1-4
R2 – 1John 3:1-3
GOSPEL – Matt 5:1-12

As a zealous and newly ordained deacon, I had this amazing and fascinating encounter at the Baptistry. Right before me that Saturday morning were over 7 couples who presented their children for baptism.

Immediately after the introductory rite, during the rite of asking their chosen baptismal names, I observed that the Catechist in an unusual manner wore a curious and seemingly exciting countenance.
He was acting a little bit drunk, smiling and looking steadily at me. I stared at him in wonder – is our catechist drunk this early morning – but continued what I was doing.

Then I asked the first lady in the front row the chosen baptismal name for her baby, she replied, “Goodluck Jonathan”. I didn’t know when, “hiaaa, inukwaooo” came our of my mouth. Catechist murmured some amusing tones. But I refused to comment, I decided to ask others before making my remarks.

I pointed at the second lady in the same row, the husband hushed from behind and shouted “Rooney.” Everyone, including myself, burst into laughter. It was at this point that the Catechist narrated how they almost lynched him, for insisting they change these names for a saintly names, yet they refused.

I then asked Papa Rooney, to explain why he chose Rooney, instead of a saintly name, he replied, “Rev, Rooney is my favourite player and I’m giving it to my son as a challenge to him to be a footballer.” His wife interrupted, and narrated how they had quarrelled all night about naming their boy Rooney instead of choosing a saintly model for the boy.

And to mama Goodluck Jonathan, she gave similar response, “I wanted to challenge him to be a future president of Nigeria like Goodluck Jonathan, so that I will become Mama President,” she said proudly.

At this the whole Church started laughing. As a popular musician will say, ‘Church a gbasaa’ (Ite Missa Est).

Beloved in Christ, today is All Saints. Today is Sainthood and Holiness Challenge; the day the Holy Mother Church celebrates the heroes, heroines and giants of the Catholic Faith, namely: the glorious band of the apostles, the noble company of prophets and the white robed army who shed their blood for Christ and upon whose blood the seed of Christianity was nurtured and bred.

In recent time, the social media and most social networking platforms, viz: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc., have been awash with alot of challenges like:

*10 years challenges *Boyfriend Challenge *Girlfriend Challenge
Jerusalema Challenge *NYSC Challenge *Smile Challenge
*Frowning Challenge, etc.

However, I noticed I never saw Challenges like:
*Sainthood Challenge *Holiness Challenge *Prayer Challenge
*Morality Challenge *Virginity Challenge
*Going to Church Challenge *Pius Society Challenge *Fellowship Challenge, etc.

Nevertheless, as the Universal Church celebrates all her triumphant celebrities, she equally challenges and reminds us that holiness and sainthood is still attainable in our age.

*THE SOLEMNITY OF ALL SAINTS AND ITS OBJECTIVES*

All Saints Day is intended to honor the memory of countless unknown and uncanonized saints who have no feast days; all baptized Christians who have died and are now with God in glory.

On a day like this, we thank God for giving ordinary men and women a share in His holiness and Heavenly glory as a reward for their Faith.

This solemnity is observed to teach us to honor the saints, both by imitating their lives and by seeking their intercession for us before Christ, the only mediator between God and man (I Tm 2:5).

Furthermore, the Church reminds us today that God’s call for holiness is universal, that all of us are called to live in His love and to make His love real in the lives of those around us. Holiness is related to the word wholesomeness as the Hebrew word “Kadosh” (Seperated unto) suggests.

According to the Gospel reading, we grow and share in God’s holiness as charged by Matt. 5:48, when we live wholesome lives of integrity, truth, justice, charity, mercy, and compassion, sharing our blessings with others.

*WHY DO WE CELEBRATE ALL SAINTS? IS IT IN THE BIBLE?*

The Apostles’ Creed makes it explicit that as a worshipping community, we believe in the Communion of the Saints:

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. Amen
(CCC. no 194)

We hold such Creed tenaciously because:

● The saints are our role models. They teach us by their lives that Christ’s holy life of love, mercy and unconditional forgiveness can, with the grace of God, be lived by ordinary people from all walks of life and at all times.

● The saints are our Heavenly mediators who intercede for us before Jesus, the only mediator between God and us. (Jas 5:16-18, Ex 32:13, Jer 15:1, Rv 8:3-4,). 4-

●The saints are the instruments that God uses to work miracles at present, just as He used the staff of Moses (Ex), the bones of the prophet Elisha (2Kgs 13:21), the towel of Paul (Acts 19:12) and the shadow of Peter (Acts 5:15) to work miracles.

*LESSONS OF ALL SAINTS*

The major thrust of the readings of today’s liturgy is to remind us that the four last things which our Penny Catechism makes succinct are real, viz:
~DEATH
~JUDGEMENT
~HEAVEN (galore of rewards as we see in the Gospel reading for the poor in spirit, peace makers, merciful, gentle, persecuted), etc.
~HELL FIRE (punishment for the arrogant in spirit, trouble makers, wicked, violent, victimizers, etc.)
{CCC nos 1005 – 1037}.

However, for us to attain and scale through the rigors washing our garments sparkling white, as prescribed by the book of revelation in the First reading, we need to first accept the sainthood and holiness Challenge as St Augustine did in his ipsisima verba: “Si iste et ista, cur non ego?”
(If he and she can become saints, why can’t I?); following and imitating strictly the three shortcuts (PPL) practiced by 3 great saintly Teresas:
(i) PRAYER
(ii) PASSION
(iii) LOVE
And one last heavenly mandate for today:
(iv) PROPEL SOMEONE TO BE A SAINT

*(i) PRAYER*
St Thereasa of Avila admonishes: “recharge your spiritual batteries every day by prayer, namely, listening to God and talking to Him.”
To be a saint, you need to know God’s heart beat, and you can only notice the spot that beats in the heart, when you come closer.

A little boy once asked the father, “how big is this ALMIGHTY and BIG God I always here?” The father answered him by resorting to an experimental procedure.

First he brought him outside the house at the sound of a passing aircraft and asked the son, “Is this aeroplane big or small?” The son who only saw a tiny thing that looked like a kite, responded, “It is very very small.”

The father then took the soon to the airport and having got to the terminals asked him, “Is this aeroplane big or small” The son frantically replied, “It is very bigggggg.” “Then, (continued the father), the size of God depends on how close or far away you are from him. What I showed you up the sky before we got here are still the same aircraft. What mattered was the observing distance.”

Today we have small girls with bigger God, yet they are practically far away from God. We equally have “umuoma osiso” who have “Chukwu sharp sharp,” yet they are far away from him. Many young guys who tell you that, Oluwa is involved or Oluwa na agba first” are practically not involved in the affairs of Oluwa in their live, so they carry last, last last.

You cannot be a saint without having and creating covenant time and always accessing God in a secret place-a one on one or alone with none but thee my God capacity.

The vision John received in the first reading from the book of Revelation about the aesthetic panorama of the heavenly realms happened at the Island of Patimos, a quiet place of prayer.

We have saints who attained sainthood through prayers

~Anthony of Egypt spent almost 12 hours each day in prayers

~Aloysius Gonzaga spent 4 hours each day in prayer
God, in his usual style, who comes down in the garden looking for man to converse with still does same in our time, looking for saintly and meditative prayer warriors (Gen. 3:8).

*(ii) PASSION*
Passion is the desire or drive to sacrifice what is desirable in the eyes of men for what you believe in. It is being intoxicated in whom one is and doing what one in called to do.

According to St. Therese of Lisieux, Passion entails doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way.
St Pope John Paul II, went further to stress the ordinariliness of saints when he said, “saints are not people who never sinned, no! The were sinners like us… For him, the only difference between the saint and the sinner is that the saint falls and rises, whereas the sinner falls and never rose.

So, hear this from the wisdom of St Terese of Lisieux that these saints did not fall from heaven. They were not extraordinary creatures; rather, they lived and sinned like us. They only became extraordinary by ordinarily attending to their normal business, vocation, profession, and carrier. They simply were simply ORDINARY, yet passionate priests, bishops, popes, parents, children, drivers, farmers, etc.

▪︎St Isdore was an ordinary farmer who never joked with morning masses

▪︎St John Vianney was a village pastor who had difficulty in passing exams, yet he ordinarily attended to penitent children of God at the confessional and ordinarily spent hours at prayer and preparing his homilies.

▪︎St Euphrosynus the Cook fulfilled his monastic obedience in the kitchen as a cook for the brethren of the Alexandrian monastery, yet he did not absent himself from thought about God.

(iii) *LOVE*
According to St. Teresa of Calcutta
(Mother Teresa): “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
It is worthy of note that, no one sees God face to face without love; because God himself is love (1 Jn. 4:8, 16).

In the second reading, St John reminds us of the need to reciprocate the love God has lavished on us by imitating him in allowing love be part of our system.
The devil has capitalized on our lack of love and used hatred which stems from complex and (PHD) “Pull Him/Her down Syndrome” to cripple our contemporary monasteries, convents, religious communities, dioceses, seminaries, religious communities, institutions and civil states and communities from producing saints.

Many good men and women today have fallen prey to the devil’s campaign for anarchy in our communities and families. LET US THINK IF THERE IS ANY FAMILY, KINDRED, VILLAGE OR COMMUNITY DEVOID OF ESEMOKWU (RIFT AND RANCOR) IN IGBO LAND AND OTHERS.. LET LOVE REIGN AND LEAD.

▪︎The sainthood of St Teresa of Calcutta and St Lawrence were realized by their love and commitments to God through the poor

(iv) *PROPEL AND INTRODUCE SOMEONE AROUND YOU TO THE SAINTHOOD AND HOLINESS CHALLENGE TODAY*

Just like Andrew and Philip, who first saw Jesus the only way to sainthood, and introduced their brothers, Peter and Nathanael, (Jn. 1:41-45); there are saints who never made it to heaven alone. They simply introduced and propelled those around them, family members, friends and comrades to accept and attain the Holiness and Sainthood Challenge. For instance:

(a) *SAINTLY MALE FRIENDS AND FEMALE FRIENDS*
~ St Francis of Assisi and St Clare
~ St Francis De Salles and St Jane De Chantell

(b) *SAINTLY SIBLINGS*
~ St Benedict and St Scholastica
~ St Cyril and St Methodius
~ Faustina and St Jovita
~ St Louis of France and St Isabella

(c) *SAINTLY TWINS*
~ St Marcus and St Marcellinus
~ St Cosmas and Damian

(d) *SAINTLY HUSBANDS AND WIVES*
~ St Joachin and St Ann
~ St Pricilla and St Aquila (Acts 18:1)
~ St Crescentia and St Modestus
~ St Julian and St Basilissa

(e) *SAINTLY PARENT AND CHILD*
~ St Bridget of Sweden, mother of St Catherine of Sweden
~ St Monica, mother of St Augustine
~ St Clotinus, mother of St Gontran

(f) *SAINTLY INTIMATE FRIENDS*
~ St Basil the Great and St Gregory

(g) *FAMILY OF SAINTS*
~ St Basil the Great, his father, St Basil the Elder, and his mother, St Emilia,

~St Gregory Nazianzus was the father of St Gregory, his mother was St Nonna. St Caesarius was brother and Gorgonia his sister, his brothers St Gregory of Nyssa and St Peter of Sebaste, his sister, Macrina, as well as the parents of his father were saints.

Finally, Bishop Robert Barren reminds and encourages us to avail our vocation, carriers, professions the opportunity of having a representative at God’s right hand in heaven, because, it would be very difficult to find one pattern of holiness, one way of following Christ. For Example:

~There is Thomas Aquinas, the towering intellectual, and John Vianney (the Curé d’Ars), who barely made it through the seminary.

~There is Vincent de Paul, a saint in the city, and there is Antony who found sanctity in the harshness and loneliness of the desert.

~There is Bernard kneeling on the hard stones of Clairvaux in penance for his sins, and there is Hildegard of Bingen singing and throwing flowers, madly in love with God.

~There is Albertus Magnus, the quirky scientist, half-philosopher and half-wizard, and there is Gerard Manley Hopkins, the gentle poet.

~There is Peter, the hard-nosed and no-nonsense fisherman, and there is Edith Stein, secretary to Edmund Husserl and colleague to Martin Heidegger, the most famous philosopher of the twentieth century.

~There is Joan of Arc, leading armies into war, and there is Francis of Assisi, the peacenik who would never hurt an animal.

~There is the grave, serious and hot tempered Jerome, and there is Philip Neri, whose spirituality was based on laughter.

How do we explain this diversity? God is an artist, and artists love to change their styles. The saints are God’s masterpieces, and He never tires of painting them in different colors, different styles, and different compositions. What does this mean for us? It means we should not try to imitate any one Saint exactly. Look to them all, study their unique holiness, but then find that specific color God wants to bear through you; and like St. Catherine of Siena: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

*BENEDICTION:*
MAY GOD GIVE US THE ENABLING GRACE TO ATTAIN THE BEATIFIC GOALS IN HEAVEN BY ALLOWING (PPL) PRAYER, PASSION AND LOVE TO CONTROL OUR PROMPTINGS AND YEARNINGS IN THIS TRANSIENT WORLD. AMEN.

*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*HAPPY FEAST DAY!*

FR GERALD MUOKA