All Saints Greek Icon
SCRIPTURE READINGS FOR THE EUCHARISTIC LITURGY
A reading from the book of the Revelation.
In the first Reading from the last Book of the Bible (The Book of Revelation), we have a vision of the victorious followers of Christ rejoicing in his presence in the heavenly Kingdom.
I, John, saw another angel rising where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God; he called in a powerful voice to the four angels whose duty was to devastate land and sea, ‘Wait before you do any damage on land or at sea or to the trees, until we have put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of God.’ Then I heard how many were sealed: a hundred and forty-four thousand, out of all the tribes of Israel.
After that I saw a huge number, impossible to count, of people from every nation, race, tribe and language; they were standing in front of the throne and in front of the Lamb, dressed in white robes and holding palms in their hands. They shouted aloud, ‘Victory to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels who were standing in a circle round the throne, surrounding the elders and the four animals, prostrated themselves before the throne, and touched the ground with their foreheads, worshipping God with these words, ‘Amen. Praise and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength to our God for ever and ever. Amen.’
One of the elders then spoke and asked me, ‘Do you know who these people are, dressed in white robes, and where they have come from?’ I answered him, ‘You can tell me, my Lord.’ Then he said, ‘These are the people who have been through the great persecution, and they have washed their robes white again in the blood of the Lamb.’
Lord, this is the people that longs to see your face.
The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
on the waters he made it firm. R.
Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
who desires not worthless things. R.
He shall receive blessings from the Lord?
and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
seek the face of the God of Jacob. R.
A reading from the first letter of St John.
In this reading, we are reminded that God has made us His family, and has a hope for each of us, that one day we will meet face to face. We are called in this reading to live a life with this hope always in our minds.
Think of the love that the Father has lavished on us,
by letting us be called God’s children;
and that is what we are.
Because the world refused to acknowledge him,
therefore it does not acknowledge us.
My dear people, we are already the 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.
Surely everyone who entertains this hope
must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ.
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
Here we have the Charter for the Christian life – our Mission statement.
Seeing the crowds, Jesus went up the hill. There he sat down and was joined by his disciples. Then he began to speak. This is what he taught them:
‘How happy are the poor in spirit:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Happy the gentle:
they shall have the earth for their heritage.
Happy those who mourn:
they shall be comforted.
Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right:
they shall be satisfied.
Happy the merciful:
they shall have mercy shown them.
Happy the pure in heart:
they shall see God.
Happy the peacemakers:
they shall be called sons of God.
Happy those who are persecuted in the cause of right:
theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
‘Happy are you when people abuse you and persecute you and speak all kinds of calumny against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven.’
A realhomilie from Fr Kevin Walsh….All Saints Day. The call to Holiness.
Dear One and All,
During the rule of Oliver Cromwell in the 1500’s, the British Government began to run low on silver for coins. Cromwell sent his men to the local Cathedral to see if they could find any precious metal there. After investigating, they reported ‘The only silver we can find is in the statues of the saints’. To which Cromwell replied ‘Good! We’ll melt down the saints and put them in circulation’.
‘Saints in circulation’ is a timely reminder of what All Saints Day is really about. Not rows of silver saints crammed into the corners of cathedrals, but saints circulating through the mainstream of humanity.
I have been humbled by those families who have struggled with financial difficulties, lived with constant sickness and mental illness, of terminal disease. So often we are unaware of the difficulties people are living with. The saints within our community often feel alone, they feel heavily burdened but continue to battle on. These people, like most, are the unsung heroes, who quietly get on in living the Gospel the best they can. The beautiful thing is, we know many of these people. At this time of year, we should stop and think about the unrecognised saints in our lives, and how we support them.
Dreaming is part of living, even though we generally do it while we sleep! Sometimes we can remember our dreams very well, the next morning, and there seems to be an innate desire to share it with others in our family. From time to time, during a very vivid dream, we might wake up and wonder where we are? Many other dreams, we don’t remember, but we still dream. I remember a skilled person in interpreting dreams once said to me that dreaming is part of processing the Parables of our existence. This statement sounds right, but I am no authority on Dreaming.
Let’s have a look at the first reading from The Book of Revelation, keeping in mind the definition that in and through dreaming, we process some of the parables of our existence. Now, for starters, like all Biblical texts, we will run into misinterpretation if we take it literally. We need to have a couple of solid foundations to build our outstanding of a general meaning of the Book of Revelation. The underpinning pillars would seem to be, God’s promise to be ‘with his people’ Exodus 25:8, protecting them and saving them, had always been part of their confidence in him, in the Old Testament, and it is this presence that has now been perfected by the marriage of God and his new chosen people, in the person of his Son, Emmanuel (God-with-us). The promise of the Risen Christ, ‘I shall be with you always, yes, to the end of time,’ is what gives life to the Church – the New Israel. Matthew 28:20 As a result, those who are faithful to Jesus have nothing to fear: they may suffer a while for him, but in the end, they will triumph over the spirit of evil and all deception. The Book of Revelation is a ‘classic’ of Christian hope, the victory song of the persecuted church!
Now, let’s not forget that God’s Word is evergreen! There is absolutely no point trying to turn upside down in saying that certain situations in this work of St. John the Divine, is speaking about something specifically happening in the Middle East in 2015! However, the themes running through the Book of Revelation, are for all times and seasons, so therefore, we can apply aspects from Revelation to what is happening in the world today, and the end result will be that God will finally triumph. This is probably all a bit deep for us in our realhomilie, so off you go to make a nice Cup of Irish Breakfast Tea, or a Café’ Latte’ or something even stronger like a ……….
Around the time that this sacred text was written, the Christians were being persecuted everywhere. In fact the way forward seemed ‘hopeless’. Notice that John’s vision is very much like a dream; he assisted by a deep communion in with the Lord, was able to paint and portray a parable of what was happening then, and what will continue to happen till the end of time. The final outcome is the great procession of those who stayed committed to Christ, and the Liturgy of Glory and Praise to God for the promises being fulfilled.
How can all this apply to us in 2015? Let’s look around the world; we do this during our Television News Broadcasts, 24/7! The U-Tube experiences that we can see on Social Media, while they are being broadcast! We have more reason than ever before to become disillusioned, fed up, and saying to ourselves…”Evil is winning….” But this is where we must be so very careful at interpreting what is shown to us on the T.V News! Good News does not make good ratings on Television, or other forms of Media…..There is something inside us that wants to know all the bad and horrific scenes happening in the world! But in truth, it is the un sung heroes, the Saints not only of today, but of yesterday and yesteryear, that quietly are living and human and wholesome editions of ‘The Good News’……everyday people who are the Prophets of Hope! We are called to be prophets of hope; and that can only happen when the love of Christ impels us to such a degree that it fashions our words, crafts our loving outreach, and enables Christ to be seen and known by others with whom we come into contact! It is just so easy for us be morbid and gloomy; it just seems to come naturally to some people, even when they are speaking about God! On the other hand if the Spiritual gifts manifested by St.Paul in his letter to the Galatians 5:22-26 are being nurtured, lived and prayed from, we are assured that the Holy Spirit is energising our actions and words all the time; even in face of persecution. Why? Because of the promise of the Lord, to be with us at all times……hence the Parable/Dream in the first reading.
The Second Reading reminds us to be a hopeful people who ‘remember’ that it is the Lord God who chose us……..we could never have come to know our God, unless God sought us first! We are called to be God’s Children…..not grandchildren; Children! We can forget that sometimes. As Children of God, in constant formation to become like Christ, we need to do the things that children do……bring new friends into the family, engage in conversation and activities that nurture the sense of belonging, and the sense of play, the sense of humour, living life to the fullest with unbounded energy. To be Holy is not necessarily manifested by the dry state of our knees, but by the wholesome lives that we lead, and the nimbleness of our Heart.
We are not meant to be perfect: if we were perfect now, we would be missing an important ingredient in becoming a Saint! Namely, the experience of forgiveness, and the ability to acknowledge our shortcomings. In doing that, we have a taste of God’s loving mercy and forgiveness as well as knowing how being reconciled really feels!
Finally, we come to the Gospel for today, Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount. Now, it is good for us to realise that with the Four Evangelists, each one, together with their respective communities, put together the things that Jesus said and did, from a particular point of view and for a specific audience. The Community of Matthew who developed this wonderful account of the Good News, were particularly familiar with their Jewish background and of course, the Old Testament. The audience which was focused on, also had a very good idea of their Hebrew background. In this setting for today, the writers and the hearers of this Gospel would automatically see in Jesus, another Moses! Remember in the Book of Exodus, that Moses climbed the mountain of the Lord and was given the Ten Commandments, or as it is often called.
The Decalogue, meaning the Ten Words of the Lord God. These commandments, or guidelines, enabled God’s people to keep their side of the Marriage Covenant which had been initiated by the Lord God, on Sinai. The words of the Marriage being….’I will be your God, and you will be my people’ Let us also remember that the Lord God is the Bridegroom, and we men and women are the Bride! Now, with all that in mind, let’s have a look at the Beatitudes.
Mission Statements, are not just part of the Language of the Church! Most big Business have these guidelines and in some places there are separate, guidelines in fine print which gives the ‘HOW’ in the implementing of the Mission Statement. We could say that The Beatitudes are our Mission Statement for the Christian Community. If we applied the Beatitudes to a big company like Mark’s & Spencer, or even Harrods, these Department Stores would probably be in receivership within a week!!!! The Beatitudes will not make money for you, but they sure will enable you to have treasures that will last!
Notice that each Beatitude begin with Happy are you, Happy are those…..It’s all about attaining real happiness; that kind of happiness which will eventually send us into a Heavenly Orbit with all our relatives in God’s Family.
Poor in Spirit! What is that? It seems that it is a hunger for God’s Word and relying on the Promises that God has made, is making and will continue to make. It is that emptiness within which enabled the Blessed Virgin Mary to respond with…’Let what you have said be done to me.
So, as we prayerfully and reflectively go through each of the Beatitudes, let’s remember that they are Christ’s Mission Statement, and through living these and being a Beatitude kind of person, we are well on the way to becoming Saints!
Leader: We seek blessings from the Lord to whom belongs the earth and all its fullness, the world and all its peoples.
Reader, please say: The response is: “Lord, hear us in your love”.
- For the Church: that its members may realize that holiness is the most important reality in life. We pray in faith. Lord, hear us in your love.
- For our leaders: that the saints may inspire them to be wise and prudent in the exercise of their responsibilities. We pray in faith. Lord, hear us in your love.
- For all who are suffering persecution because of their faith in Christ. We pray in faith. Lord, hear us in your love.
- For the people who live in our own Parish neighbourhood: that the thoughts of our hearts may direct the work of our hands and, through that integrity, we may behold God face to face. We pray in faith. Lord, hear us in your love.
- For ourselves: that our devotion to the saints may bring us closer to Christ, the model of true holiness. We pray in faith. Lord, hear us in your love.
- For those who mourn with broken hearts or spirits: that they may be comforted by God’s compassion and be consoled by God’s people. We pray in faith. Lord, hear us in your love.
- For our recently deceased, and the anniversaries, which occur about this time: that the many blessings that have been part of their lives will continue to grow in us. Lord, hear us in your love.
Leader: Heavenly Father, with the saints to inspire and guide us, may we seek holiness, and so live lives that are worthy of our Christian dignity. We ask this through Christ, our Lord .Amen
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