All Saints’ Day
Background: In a culture that is living more and more in a denial of death, this festival reminds us that we are “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” who “have run the race and kept the faith.” Yet when we profess that we believe in the “communion of saints,” we are proclaiming that we too are saints. For in this life the poor, the gentle, the victimized are all close to God’s heart. The Beatitudes are the “charter” for how we are to live in the kingdom or reign of God.
- Which of the Beatitudes do you feel that you already best embody?
- Which one do you need to try to develop?
- Which group of God’s children have you closed your mind and heart to? How will this celebration help open you up?
- Revelations describes “a multitude past counting.” Which one of that multitude is your patron, your inspiration, and your special friend?
Practice: During this week include in your prayer the Litany of the Saints. There are several versions available online.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: Jesus continues to teach his disciples about long-term life in the kingdom or reign of God. For the second Sunday in a row, he addresses the urgency of that life. Only unselfish deeds of love that spring from our faith and trust in him will bear “abundant fruit.”
- What would make heaven an eternal and fulfilling banquet for you?
- The “oil” that keeps the lamps burning bright is a supply of unselfish deeds done out of love and compassion for others. Does that thought make you comfortable or uncomfortable? Why? (Look at the ordinary: raising children counts!)
- Jesus proclaims that urgency of the kingdom/reign of God. What have you been putting off till later?
- Life in the kingdom/reign should not be obsessive-compulsive. What helps keep you balanced in your life? Whose support can you count on?
Practice: Return to Matthew’s Beatitudes in Chapter 5 during your prayer this week. Pray over them one-by-one until they settle into your heart and life.
33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Background: Having challenged the chief priests and elders with his stories, the prophet Jesus now addresses the Pharisees and Herodians, both of whom were sincerely trying to recall their fellow-Jews to a more authentic living of the covenant that God had made with their ancestors, a situation complicated by the Romans’ complete domination of their country. How do we live in the tension between the very real demands of our society and still maintain our allegiance to the God’s kingdom/reign?
- Which of your talents have you been most consistently using in the care of others?
- Which talent have you kept “buried”? Why?
- For Jesus success does not lie in perfection but in an honest effort. Where should you cut yourself some slack?
- What will be the greatest joy that Jesus our Master will give you at last?
Practice: Have a meaningful conversation with a spouse or friend or counsellor about your talents. Make certain that your daily priorities are in order.
34th Sunday – Christ the King
Background: Christ the King is always a feast marked by some level of irony since for Jesus, as for us, the path to glory and eternal life lies through being lifted up on the cross. And so, Year A ends with his assurance that he is always with us since we are surrounded by those in need, those who bear a real cross in their lives.
- How have you demonstrated in deeds and not just in words that you are a sheep and not a goat? (Remember: little things count!)
- No one can “buy” their way into heaven. Are you motivated by fear of punishment or a sense of shame or by an authentic love of God and neighbor?
- How is our society or Church dividing people into sheep and goats in order to justify neglecting their needs?
- How have God’s “goodness and kindness followed you all the days of your life”?
Practice: In your prayer this week return again and again to 1 Corinthians 11 until Paul’s words come alive in your mind and heart.