‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread’. These words have become a standard English proverb. They originate in the poem Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope way back in...
The Apostles’ Creed contains an important addition not explicitly mentioned in the Nicene version which, with one exception, we confess every Sunday of the year. Therein we profess our faith
“in the communion of saints.” However, the Nicene Confession, as well as that of the Apostles’, expresses our belief in the catholic Church (not Catholic with the capital ‘C’). The Nicene however adds that we “confess one baptism.”
In this way our belief in the communion of saints is enriched. There is a communion – a union and basic unity – which exists
among all (living and dead – Catholic, Anglican, Protestant and Orthodox)who are baptised in the name of Trinity, through the pouring of water, and who thus form, and are members of, the catholic (universal)Church.
The development of this unity is the focus, work, and ministry of ecumenism. Not even the most right wing, radical and traditional Roman Catholics are able to extricate themselves from this truth of faith. Unfortunately we should also be aware of the fact that there do exist a number of right wing, radical and fundamentalist Christians who fail to recognise Catholics as belonging to this communion. However, there remain far too many Catholics who harbour a real distrust and uncomfortableness with brother and sister Christians who share the same faith but belong to different religions.
More and more I become increasingly convinced that all forms of radical and fundamentalist faith and religious activities are BAD NEWS. Christians, particularly, need to be reminded of the GOOD NEWS that there exists a communion of saints – all the saints.
This Sunday’s celebration of
ALL SAINTS is our common celebration of the fact that we are joined together in a FAITH that must become, more and more, GOOD NEWS for our contemporary world. We must never forget that the saints who have gone before us remain in communion with us who are still striving in this life to become what they now are. Their examples and prayers (because they DO intercede on our behalf) encourage us and focus our efforts more clearly. If any of you are mourning the death of a loved one, who died recently be assured and aware of the fact that he or she is now a renewed and revitalised saint who intercedes for you.
In this connection we need to hear clearly words from the final paragraph of
TODAY’S FIRST READING [REVELATION 7: 2 – 4. 9 – 14]. The elder involved answers his own question with the words that “these are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” We also need to know that these saints come “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues.” What is often forgotten or ignored is the fact that among these saints are, for example, Protestants (perish the thought?!) who were MARTYRS FOR JESUS CHRIST AND THE CHRISTIAN FAITH. I know that their witness makes my own often faltering efforts look somewhat paltry.
TODAY’S GOSPEL [MATTHEW 5: 1 – 12 a]
is a simple but challenging reminder to all of us that we are called (our vocation as Christians) to live our ordinary lives in as extraordinary a way as is possible for each one’s circumstances and “tribulations.” This Gospel also provides us with one of the best available examinations of conscience.
This reflection could easily have begun with
TODAY’S SECOND READING [1 JOHN 3: 1 – 3]. However the same verses provide a powerful challenge for the conclusion. We are told that “we are God’s children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but … we shall be like him.” I prefer the translation which tells us that we do not yet know what we shall become. WE ARE SAINTS ALREADY, IN THE PRESENT. WE ARE ALSO SAINTS IN THE MAKING. We will never be able to understand the call to the future unless we know and accept from where we are coming.
Do we really want to undertake the process of becoming even more genuine and effective than we are now?