Thursday, November 03, 2011

More Joy in Heaven

November 3, 2011

Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time

None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:7-8

And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, "Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep." I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance. Luke 15:5-7


The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid? Psalm 27:1


Today the Psalmist asks us to consider the question that if the Lord is our light, our salvation and our shepherd, of whom should we be afraid.

Our work week started Monday with the "celebration" of All Hallow's Eve. Our streets, classrooms and yes even offices were filled with costumed friends dressed up to bear the likenesses of Freddy Krueger, various ghosts, goblins, witches and other ghouls. Ostensibly they did this to scare us out of some high fructose corn syrup, chocolate and other sugary snacks. Should we really fear the four-year-old down the street?

The next few days were important solemnities in the church. First, on Tuesday we marked the Feast of All Saints. Second, on Wednesday we celebrated the lives if all the faithfully departed (All Souls Day). Now, as we enter the final stretch of Ordinary Time in our liturgical year, we contemplate all the sinners. Perhaps the Church should make November 3 the Commemoration of All the UnFaithful Yet to be Departed (All Sinners Day)?

Back to the Psalmist's original question, "Of whom should we be afraid?" Maybe one answer to that is ourselves. As Paul taught us earlier in his Letter to the Romans, God delivered all to a state in which we have the propensity for disobedience (sin) so that God might save us all.

If the Lord is our light, our salvation and our shepherd looking for us while we are lost, then we are the first who would put that light out with our selfishness. We are the first who would reject that spiritual salvation for the misguided comfort of material goods. We are the first who would hide in the bushes while the shepherd calls us by our name.

So this week, as we remember the sainthood of all who have gone before us to the Cloud of Witnesses, canonized or not, let us remember that we stand on the precipice of sainthood. If only we can stop ourselves from the ever-near occasions of temptation, disobedience and sin.


To cope with the fear of falling off the bandwagon filled with the faithful, we must confront our fear of sin and be persistent in pursuit of the right relationship with God, with our neighbors and with our selves.

If we recognize the normal reactions that we have to other people, then we can better prepare ourselves to cope with our reactions to them in the world. So when that driver cuts you off, or the boss makes you work all weekend, or that commercial tempts you into the latest product to make you younger, thinner, or more attractive, we can build up strategies to resist our natural "sinnerhood" reactions. Because our natural selfish reactions are the gift that we can reject in order to be worthy of redemption and get back on the road to sainthood.

Who or what will be the first thing in your day today to get you back on the path to sainthood?