Note to my followers: this solemnity homily will remain on site for one day only. My normal weekend post instead of being posted at 8 am on Friday will be posted at 4 pm, have a blessed weekend. Deacon Dave
C Cycle – Feast of All Saints 19
I spent part of my day sitting with someone who is in hospice, he is terminal, and he knows his death is near. We talk about God, heaven, forgiveness and God’s mercy. Visiting terminally ill individuals, has been something I have done since the first year of my ordination, over 21 years ago. What strikes me about the terminally ill is their uncertainty about God’s mercy and a real fear that they have not done enough to be welcomed into God’s presence. The God I have come to know is the God I talk to them about. I use God’s own words to help them understand that instead of fearing God they need to be preparing to enter the communion of saints. Those unnamed individuals, the multitude gathered before the throne of God because of what He has done was recognized and lived by them.
My efforts with these men and women are spent in reading the scriptures passages where God reveals His heart to us revealing His desire to bless them not destroy them. By opening the word to them and allow them to discover God’s desire for them is to embrace not condemn them. God desires us to seek Him not fear Him. God’s plan has been revealed to us and we see it is a desire for an intimate relationship with us built on His love for us and His desire to change our hearts. God does not desire a relationship built on blind obedience, but one built on mutual love.
God has been consistent in what He said to us in the Old Testament and those words became visible in the life, the words and the actions of Jesus Christ. God desires us to understand it is not by our efforts to be holy that we are able to join the saints, but we become saints by embracing His forgiveness and embracing the Spirit who will guide us to holiness. God did not make us to destroy us but to love us. God is certainly not happy when we are disobedience but instead of condemning us, He is like any loving Father who although disappointed in our choices, He will not withhold His love for us.
I could spend the next week quoting to you all the scripture passages I quote to those in hospice. God’s own words which reveal His desire to bless us not to condemn us, but we just do not have time for all to walk you through the Old Testament. Therefor let us focus on one passage that is clear, concise and to the point. This one passage you should read and reread, take it into your hearts and meditate on exactly how God views our failings and sinfulness.
Those words come to us from the Book of Jeremiah Chapter 31, verses 31 to 34. Through the prophet Jeremiah, God is telling us how desperately He wants to be intimate with Him and for us to “know” Him. That simple word know holds the key to God’s desire for our response to God.
The root Hebrew word used from which the word “know” is derived is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis when God says, Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived and bore a son. God wants to be that intimate with us and that kind of intimacy is not possible if our attitude toward God is not to trust Him. But to make that kind of intimacy possible God tells us He will send us the Holy Spirit to change our hearts so we will desire a deep physical intimacy with God.
God’s desire for intimacy is made possible for us if we begin to allow the Spirit to flood us with the love of God and when stop depending on the law for our entry ticket into heaven. But God had something more to say to us through Jeremiah. He in verse 34 reveals how He will treat our sins; He will “…forgive your sin and remember your guilt no more.”
It is no wonder Paul, who professes to be the greatest of sinners could be so effective in his efforts to help others know God’s mercy. Paul understood God’s forgiveness goes beyond mere words expressing forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is total and complete removal of the sin from us and from His memory.
Intimacy with God is at the heart of discipleship and living the life of a disciple is the secret of becoming a saint. It is only possible by allowing forgiveness to permeate our senses.
Each of us have had the privilege of being inspired by the saints we celebrate today as well as being a saint for others. You and I can talk about people who inspired us to seek the heart of God because their life reflected their love of God and they knew God’s love and forgiveness was greater than they deserved.
Saints surround us every day. They have lived in our homes, they have served us by their ministry in our parishes and in our diocese, they have and do teach in our school, and they have visited us when we were ignored by others. They are your relatives by blood, and they are your brothers and sisters in Christ. We celebrate them today but more then celebrate them we should be inspired by them to discover what they have discovered.
Those saints we celebrate will never be named saints by the church, but we know and knew them. The saints we honor today are among the multitude seen by John giving praise and glory to God. They are there because they were transformed by their contact with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. They responded to the invitation of Christ to listen to Him as He reveals salvation comes from God and God alone. It has always been an invitation based on God’s desire to change our hearts.
God does not care how you lived before you accept the invitation to allow God’s love to flood your heart but He does desire you to put aside all your efforts to be saints and allow His Spirit to transform you just as it has done for all those gathered around the throne of God today