Reflection for Tuesday, November 1, 2005: All Saints, Solemnity.

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Burke-Sullivan, Eileen
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As you begin this day extend a "happy Feast Day" greeting to all of your favorite Christians, this is the day to remember and imagine our salvation with great joy!|For a number of years I had the privilege of being the liturgy coordinator for a large parish named All Saints. The parish developed a wonderful tradition of truly celebrating the Feast of All Saints as a "little Easter" in the autumn. Since I had some significant responsibility for the preparation for the Eucharistic celebration on the feast, I was often rather "Martha-like" on the day of the festival _ busy about many things, and nervous about everything coming together as well as we hoped it would. One year my nephew Sean, who was in middle school at the time, came to visit me during his fall break. Sean had begun to be very interested in theater and had just finished participating in some production before he came to visit. On the evening of November 1, after a long day of helping me with last minute details, Sean sat with me in a side pew as the organ and trumpet took up the strains of the opening hymn. My nervousness must have been more than a little obvious, because this very wise eleven year old whispered to me, "Aunt Eileen, I don't know how it is with liturgy, but in drama once it starts the director and crew have to relax and let the actors do their parts." |The "main actors" of the liturgy, of course are Jesus and the Holy Spirit _ the "two arms of God" as Saint Irenaeus invited us to imagine these persons of the Godhead. The Spirit calls us together, shapes us into the Body of Christ by uniting us with Jesus, our Head, and gives us hearts of praise. Jesus lifts us into his own great sacrificial offering, transforming us into his Body and Blood to be poured out today for the life of the world in this generation. Together these paradigmatic actors, whose drama is their own existence, praise the Father through our voices, our acts of mercy and forgiveness that they have empowered us to undertake.|But while God is the main actor in the great liturgical drama of creation and salvation, God chooses to not act alone. We too, are actors because we have been created with minds and hearts and wills, bodies, thoughts, emotions, and intentions _ all of which we can decide to bend toward the service of God, or we can twist into the idolatrous worship of ourselves or other creatures at least as unworthy.|What the delightful Solemnity of All Saints celebrates is that countless men and women, teens, children and yes, even babies have been washed in the "Blood of the Lamb" and have responded _ in so far as they could _ to act with Christ _ have chosen to struggle with real human poverty to embrace poverty of spirit, have chosen to mourn because they have loved and lost, have chosen the way of peacemaking rather than to dominate by force, have chosen a way of gentleness rather than oppression or manipulation.|The number 144,000 is a mysterious symbol for a vast (even uncountable) number who are faithful to the first covenant (Twelve Tribes of Israel) times those who are faithful to Jesus' covenant (Twelve Apostles) times 1000, which is generally thought to be a symbol for countless numbers. Thus the Church honors the great and the small of all human history who have sought to be faithful to the path of love _ who have been saved by Jesus' death (backward and forward in time) and capacitated for cooperation in his on-going work by His Spirit outpoured.|Oh yes, the Divine Actor can be counted upon ever and always. When we responding actors do our small parts well, then all of creation is united in the liturgy of All Saints as together heaven and earth cry out:|Blessing and glory, |wisdom and thanksgiving, |honor, power, and might |be to our God forever and ever. Amen (Rev 7.12)
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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