All Saints 2018

posted 20 Nov 2018, 02:46 by Parish Office

Homily for All Saints 2018

 

“I, John, saw another angel rising from where the sun rises, carrying the seal of the living God.”  What is a seal?  Of course, the word can refer to a type of furry sea animal, but in this case it refers to a wax seal – not a Madame Tussauds wax model of a furry sea animal, but rather a piece of wax having a design pressed into it, attached to a document to show that it bears official authority.  In days gone by, a document might be put together by people working for the king, and once he had read the document or letter and gave his approval, he would imprint his ring into the wax on the document or letter, to show that it had his approval and authority.

 

So what is the point of the saints and martyrs in the first reading being sealed with the seal of the living God?  It’s a similar thing – to show that they bear the authority of God in the message that they preach, even if they are disregarded, rejected or worse.

 

As Christians, we too are sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit.  At confirmation, as the bishop makes the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person being confirmed, he says, “Be sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit”.  We are sent on a mission, as ambassadors for Christ.  But what do we have to do to live up to that ambassadorship?  It’s in the lives of the saints that we see what that really means.

 

St John Paul II wasn’t born a saint – he had to choose to respond to God’s grace.  Perhaps by witnessing his country invaded, first by the Nazis, and then by the Communists, he saw first hand the battle between good and evil, and knew which side he wanted to join.  The Nazis were defeated before he was ordained a priest, but the communists were to be a force he had to do battle with for a substantial part of his life.

 

When he was elected Pope in 1978, Poland was ecstatic (apart from the communists, of course).  His return visit to Poland in 1979 was a celebration of a great victory, and the nation had great hopes for its future.  But on a later visit, John Paul found a nation that had been worn down by the communists, and he had to try to rekindle people’s hope once more.  They sometimes say that he was the one who had a major role in ending communism in Europe.  That’s true, but there is a wider picture to it as well.  When he was much younger, perhaps even before he became a priest, Karol Wojtyla consecrated himself totally to Jesus through the hands of Our Lady, as described by St Louis Marie de Montfort in his book True Devotion to Mary.  St Louis died back in 1716, but still inspires many today.  As I may have mentioned before, Our Lady requested, following her apparitions in Fatima, for the Pope, in union with the bishops of the world, to consecrate the world, including Russia, to her Immaculate Heart.  On 25th March 1984, he did just this, not just with the Catholic bishops, but also those of the Eastern Orthodox Churches.  Five years later, in 1989, communism fell in Poland and the same began happening throughout Eastern Europe, with the USSR itself ultimately making a transition to a more democratic form of government.

 

I said that it’s in the saints that we see what living as ambassadors for Christ looks like.  St John Paul II’s coat of arms included a shield which had a cross on it, and a letter “M” in the bottom right-hand corner.  It reminds us of Jesus on the Cross and His Mother Mary by His side.  His motto as Pope was “Totus Tuus”, which translates as “totally yours”, referring back to the consecration he made of his whole self to Jesus through the hands of Mary.

 

We are not all called to become Popes and do exactly the same as St John Paul II.  But as it said in the second reading, God has plan of love for each one of us, and it’s through giving ourselves totally to Jesus through the hands of Our Lady that we have the greatest chance of putting that plan into action and being the person that God is calling us to be.  The second reading finished with those words, “Surely everyone who entertains this hope must purify himself, must try to be as pure as Christ”.  The point that St Louis de Montfort makes in True Devotion to Mary is that, firstly, it’s not an easy road trying to be a saint, to perfectly fulfil the plan of Christ for us, and secondly, that Our Lady can help us greatly in this – it’s a bit like a spiritual “short cut” to holiness.  Talking of short cuts, True Devotion is 125 pages long, but he also wrote a much smaller and more succinct book called The Secret of Mary which is pocket-sized and only 52 small pages long.

 

To sum up, then, at confirmation we are sealed with the Holy Spirit and sent out as ambassadors for Christ, bearing his seal and carrying His message into our world.  But if we are to be faithful, one of the best things we can do is to give ourselves totally over to Him through Our Lady, just like St John Paul II and St Louis Marie de Montfort.

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