Monday October 31, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier  
Vigil of the Feast of All Saints

Reading I (Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14)  

Reading II (1 John 3:1-3)  Gospel (St. Matthew 5:1-12a)

Following is the Homily from the Mass of Reparation

 

In the first reading today from the Book of Revelation, we hear the song of the elders around the throne of God as they prostrate themselves before the Lord and they cry out, Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving, honor, power, and might be to our God forever and ever. This is precisely the essence of our faith in Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. He is there in absolute humility, but even more astounding than that, He is present in a form that is entirely passive. This is God Who is Almighty, God Who created all things, God Who is completely active, and yet in the Blessed Sacrament He has hidden everything from our eyes and He asks simply that we would live upon our faith that He is truly present.
 

This understanding of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is so critical to us, not only because it defines who we are as Catholic people, but if we truly believe that Jesus is present then we do exactly what we have been doing tonight. Like the elders around the throne of God, we bow down before Him and we give Him the honor and the glory that is due to Him. It is so critical especially on a night like this that we do precisely that because there is another group of people that believes absolutely one hundred percent in the Real Presence of Jesus Christ truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately, they worship Satan. The Satanists believe in the Real Presence of Jesus, and tragically this very night throughout the world they will be desecrating the Blessed Sacrament in every sick and disgusting form that one can imagine. When we think about Our Lord’s love for us, that He would remain hidden in the Blessed Sacrament even though He knows how many people will ignore Him, how many people will refuse to believe in Him, and even how many people will desecrate Him on nights like this, still because of His love for us He remains.
 
What He asks from us, who recognize that He is truly present, is that we will bow down before Him and we will worship Him and honor Him. That is precisely what this is all about tonight, to give to Him the glory and honor and praise and worship that is due. For ourselves, if we look at the context of those words, we recognize that in doing that we prepare ourselves for eternal life because in eternity we are going to bow down before the Lord and we are going to give Him praise and glory and honor. In this world, it is in faith; in the next world, it will be by sight, in pure love.
 
Saint Paul tells us that we walk by faith, not by sight. And as we go through this world living by faith, we know by faith that Jesus is truly present, but there are many who do not believe. Saint John tells us that the reason the world does not know us is that it does not know Him. Thanks be to God that He has given to us the grace to be able to recognize Him there, to know that He is truly present among us in the Blessed Sacrament, that He would give us the grace to be willing to come at this time of the night to be able to worship Him. It may be that in many of our lives we would just shrug that off and think it is no big deal. But you need to realize what a gift it is that God has given to you to have that kind of faith and to have that kind of love that you would sacrifice some of your sleep, that you would sacrifice many other things that you could be doing this night in order to give Him fitting worship and praise.

This is a wonderful gift that God has given, and now it is for us to respond because Saint John tells us that for those who do recognize Him, for those who love Him, they make themselves to be pure as He is pure. The purity of Christ is a purity of love because that is all that He is: He is love. He is right there in front of us in the Blessed Sacrament in pure love, and if we are to become like Him, it is to become love. The only way that we are going to become like Him is if we spend time with Him, if we grow in love with Him, and if we live the way that He lived. It is precisely what we see in the Gospel reading today, all the points of the Beatitudes which lay out for us what the Christian life is supposed to be. Of course, at the end of those Beatitudes, Our Lord tells us very clearly that if we are going to live this way we will be persecuted, we will be rejected, because the world does not recognize Him so it cannot recognize us if we are being like Him.

 We can each one contemplate on this glorious feast all of those faithful souls who have gone before us and have already entered into the fullness of life in heaven, those who recognized that Our Lord was truly present in their midst and they made themselves like Him by washing their robes white in the Blood of the Lamb, they are not the external robes–it is their souls that have been washed clean in the Blood of the Lamb. They chose to live their life to be like Him.

One of the things that we hear many, many times (and I suspect they probably come out of our own mouths many times) is that even though we want to follow Jesus, we say things like “But I still need to be like everyone else. I still need to be enough like everyone else that they’ll accept me. I need to do this so that people do not think that I’m weird.” Why? If people do not recognize Jesus and they think you are weird because you do recognize Him and you are like Him, that is a great compliment and it is precisely what Saint John told us would happen if we are going to be like Him. The world will not recognize us because it did not recognize Him. So what we are striving for, unfortunately, is to be accepted by the worldly types. We want to be just like everyone else. Why? They do not recognize Christ, so if they recognize you as one of their own then you are not like Christ because they do not recognize Him. That is what we need to look at.

This is not asking anybody to do anything that would violate their dignity. It is not asking anybody to lower themselves or to be odd or strange. Rather it is asking each person to rise to the dignity with which God has created us, to become what we were created to be, and that is a saint. God wants us to be saints. Now having had the opportunity to spend time before Him, we need to ask: Do we want to be like Him? When you look at Him truly present in the Eucharist, do you want to be like Him Who is so humble that He would give Himself to us in the form of a piece of bread? Do you want to be like Him Who is so perfectly loving that He gives Himself entirely, leaving Himself totally vulnerable so that we can either love Him or reject Him, we can either violate Him or we can worship Him? Are we willing to be like Him Who was rejected? Are we willing to be like Him Who suffered for us and sacrificed Himself for us?

You see it is easy if we just look at it in some sort of fairytale way to say, “I want to be like Jesus.” But when you look at the mosaic above the altar [Father is referring to a mosaic which depicts the scene of the Crucifixion] and when you look at Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, ask yourself: Do I want to be like Him? Will the world recognize me because I am like them, or will the world not recognize me because I am like Him? God wants us to be saints. He wants us to be like Him. We have chosen to be here tonight to make reparation, to worship Him, to honor Him, and to glorify Him. So recognizing the grace of God at work in our souls, now we need to ask ourselves: Am I willing to take this to the next level? Am I willing to really put into practice what it is that I profess? Am I willing to take what I have been doing here tonight, and what I will do later on here tonight, out into the streets by the way I live my life? That is what we have to ask ourselves. That is what the saints did, not necessarily only the saints whose names we all know, but all of the saints whom we honor tonight in such a glorious way. They recognized Him and they lived their lives to be like Him.

What the world needs today more than anything else is saints. Are you willing to be one of them? To be a saint is to be like Jesus. Are we willing to do it? It starts with what we have already been doing: recognizing Him truly present among us, worshiping Him, giving Him the honor and the glory that is due to Him. But if we are really going to give to Him what is due, it means to change our lives to become like Him. That is the greatest honor and glory that we can possibly give Him, to wash our robes clean in the Blood of the Lamb and to become like Him in all things. That is what each one of us really needs to meditate on. As we go through the rest of the Mass, ponder that reality. Do you want to be like everyone else, or do you want to be like the saints in heaven? Do we want to be like Jesus, or do we want to be like those who live a worldly life? That is the choice we have to make. Not just a fairytale choice of “I want to be like Jesus” but a real, true, honest choice in the depth of our being, a choice that says, “I am willing to change whatever is not of Him and whatever is not like Him so that I will be transformed into the very image and likeness of Jesus Christ.” That is what He is inviting each one of us to do. Are we willing to truly be like Jesus Christ?

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