Sunday, June 7, 2020
The First Sunday After Pentecost
All Saints Day
Readings at the Liturgy: 1) Isaiah 43:9-14a. 2) Heb 11:33-12:2a.
3) Mt 10:32-33, 37-38, 19:27-30.
GLORY TO JESUS CHRIST! GLORY FOREVER!
My dear parishioners and friends,
Last Sunday was Pentecost. In the Old Covenant, Pentecost is the commemoration of God’s blessing Israel with the abundance of the harvest and His entering into a Covenant with them on Mount Sinai. In the New Covenant, Pentecost is the commemoration of the abundant gifts and graces given on that day by the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s confirmation of the New Covenant by means of His descent upon the Apostles. Today, the Sunday immediately after Pentecost, is the Sunday of All Saints. Why? Because the saints are the obvious and immediate result of the Holy Spirit’s graces and gifts. Pentecost commemorates the produce resulting from the harvest — for the Israelites, the wheat and other grains; for Christians, the spiritual graces and gifts. But the Sunday after Pentecost commemorates the consequence of the graces and gifts — the faith, sanctity, and virtue that come as a result of the Spirit’s graces and gifts, and that are abundantly displayed in the ordinary (or perhaps better to say, extraordinary) lives of the saints.
For Christians, the saints, those known and unknown, are the real harvest of the Holy Spirit, a harvest that continues each and every day — every time we turn to God, or love our neighbour, or say “No” to the temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Yes, because of the graces and gifts God continually showers upon us (if only we would receive and not neglect or even refuse them), our vocation is to be saints. That is what St. Paul calls the Christians to whom he writes: “Greet all the saints” (Rom 16:15), he says, “to you who have been called to be saints” (1 Cor 1:2), “to all the saints throughout Achaia” (2 Cor 1:1), “All the saints greet you” (2 Cor 13:12), “to the saints in Ephesus” (Eph 1:1), “to all the saints in Christ who are in Philippi” (Phil 1:1), and so on, in every epistle he wrote.
So we, too, even if our sanctity is not yet fully achieved, are at least among the saints. As baptized, chrismated and Communion-receiving people, we have to be. The greeting at the Divine Liturgy unashamedly proclaims, “Christ is among us — He is and will be!” And where Christ is, sanctity/holiness must be also. With the help of our Pentecost graces and gifts let us strive to live more and more as true followers of the Lord Jesus. The victory is nigh (I love that word!), we are a people on the move, on the way to sainthood. The lives of the saints show us that they were not perfect. But in the end, and when it counted, the victory was won. Their life became a full triumph of the Spirit’s grace, and this is a challenge to us. We are at the starting point, but God loves us as too, and we share those Pentecost graces and gifts. God the + Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is always there for us, but it is our co-operation, our “synergy” with Him, that will decide in the end.
And now a wonderful joyful word about today’s celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The Liturgy is always a “Pentecost event,” a coming down of the Holy Spirit. But today especially so, because the Holy Spirit is harvesting more souls for His Church. Several weeks before the advent of the corvid-19 pandemic, a Protestant couple, Matthew and Evangeline Grenke and their four small children, had begun to attend the Divine Liturgy here at St. Catherine’s Church. The Grenke’s were devoutly discerning the Lord’s will as to whether they should become Byzantine-rite Catholics. The answer came in the affirmative and the good God has decided not to delay their reception any longer. So today, on this blessed Sunday of All Saints, the four Grenke children Matthäus (6 years), Michael (4 years), Anna (3 years) and Daniel (1 year) will be baptized. Then they, together with their parents Matthew and Evangeline (who have already been baptized), will receive the additional Sacraments of Chrismation and Holy Communion. We welcome them with open arms and — although I would like to be the first to “greet them,” as St. Paul says, “with a holy kiss” (Rom 16:15) — that will have to wait until “social distancing” is a thing of the past! Glory to You, O God, for everything!
— Father Conrad.
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