We are God's children now. What we shall be has not yet been revealed.

Tuesday, 11/16

I once heard a Baptist funeral sermon that pictured our passage to the next world as a mere stepping to the sunny side of the street, to a place where we will come together with our dearest friends, where we will still be Cubs fans or Red Socks rooters.

Maybe. But Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men, the things that God had planned for those who love him.” And St. John in today’s reading said, “We are God’s children now, what we shall be has not yet been revealed.”

Our surest way of insuring a good afterlife is for us to concentrate on being loving children to God. Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, in speaking first of almsgiving, then of praying and then of fasting, told us that when we do such things, if we do them to be noticed by humans, we will receive no reward from our Father; but if we do them in secret, with nothing in mind other than pleasing our Father, then our reward will be great in heaven.

Although no one can tell us what heaven is really like, there are still hints about it scattered all through the Bible. The poet Date, in 1310 stitched those hints together, creating a beautiful tapestry that he called his book “Paradiso.”

When war engulfed Europe in 1939, we shared our Christian hope by singing, “We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day.”

Let's honor the saintly people we have known

Monday, 10/31/16

Tomorrow is the Feast of All Saints, so today is the vigil of All Saints. Saints were once known as “hollows,” and the vigil of All Hollows was called Holloween. People used to imagen the spirits of the saints visiting us this day, and that thought gave rise to people visiting us disguised as saints.

We could give our thoughts to our favorite saints visiting us today. But, instead of picturing any of the old time saints, we should take this day to honor the saints we have known.

Let me name three of the saints I have known, asking you then to name three of your own saints.

My first saint t was Father Jim Kielt, our rector the six years I was in his major seminary. He would always go along with what was right, saying, “Yes, you may do that. It is reasonable.”

My second saint was Emily, a seventeen-year-old Korean girl whose hand I held as she died.

My third saint was my dad. Francis Michael Sullivan. He put dinner on for ten of us every night.

Coming In  the back door from work, he would ask, “What are we doing tonight?”

Who are your saints?

The most intimate relationship for each of us is the one we continuously carry on with our creator.

Sunday, 10/30/16

The holier people in Jericho grumbled when they saw Jesus going to eat in the house of a sinner. They thought he should have favored some truly religious people. But who would they be?

The first reading, addressing God, says, “You love all things that are.” And that reading goes on to say, “You love all things that are. How could any person remain in existence unless you willed it?”

Our Lord’s story of “The Pharisee and the Tax Collector who went up to the temple to pray” makes this same point, that humanity is not divided between religious persons like the Pharisee, and non-religious persons like the Tax Collector.

 The Pharisee, seeing himself as a truly religious person, prayed, “I thank God I am not like the rest of men, for I fast twice a week, and pay tithes on all I possess.”  While the Tax Collector just beat his breast, saying, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.”  And Jesus said, “This latter  went back to his home justified, while the other did not.  

Jesus, by saying the Tax Collector “went back to his home,” meant he went back to his place of business. He was saying that Tax Collectors are necessary for the upkeep of society, as are men who run filling stations. (The world would be in a mess if all we had were monasteries for religious people like nuns and monks.)

My mother used to avoid very religious people, referring to them as “Holier than Thous.” The most intimate relationship for each of us is the one we continuously carry on with our creator.