All Saints (Noon Mass)

Preached November 1, 2018; St. Peter’s Catholic Church, The Dalles, Oregon (Noon Mass)

In today’s Psalm response we all said, Lord, this is the people who long to see your face. The saints in heaven, whom we honor today, already behold God face to face. For ourselves we can alter the wording of the prayer and make it a question: Lord, is this the people that longs to see your face? That is question we each could ask ourselves; do I really long to see the face of God? Is that the supreme and burning desire of my heart?

In today’s 1st reading we heard about the saints in heaven who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This life is always the time of great distress. During this life we must wash our robes in the Blood of the Lamb in order to be able to enter in and see the face of God.

We first washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb when we were baptized into his death. (cf. Rm 6:3) We need to continually wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb through sacrament of penance. We also need to wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb by actually sharing in his suffering and death; this we do whenever we unite the sufferings of our life to the death of Christ, offering them to God through, with, and in him.

In this way we will be able to enter in and join the company of the saints in the face-to-face vision of God.

In today’s 2nd reading we heard that while, through baptism, we are already the children of God what we shall be has not yet been revealed; we do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him for we shall see him as he is.

 The saints in heaven are now like God and see him as he is; our hope, if we long to see is face, is to be able to join that company one day. St. John adds, Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure as he is pure. In other words they wash their robes and make them white, clean, pure in the blood of the Lamb.

Let me pause here on this purity that is required of us in order to enter into heaven. We live in a toxic impure world. I am not talking about the world of God’s creation, but the human world, the culture in which we live.

This impure world tells us all that matters is what we do (and then we can do as we please so long as we avoid harming or injuring others). As for what is inside, as for the heart, that does not matter at all. We can believe what we want; we can think what we want; we can imagine what we want; we can desire what we want; we can listen to what we want; we can read what we want; we can watch what we want. We can take into our soul all the toxic junk that fills the wastewater of our culture and it makes no difference, so long as we do not hurt anyone. We can be as filthy as we want inside, and it does not make any difference, so long as we do not hurt anyone.

That is, of course, a lie, and is directly contrary to the words of the Gospel: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. Purity of heart is actually more important that what we do; if we have a pure heart, then we shall indeed act rightly. If our heart is not pure, then all the good that we might do outwardly is contaminated by our filthy heart.

So if we are to make ourselves pure as he is pure and thereby achieve the realization of our hope, the vision of the face of God, we must guard our heart. We must be careful about what we believe, what we think, what we imagine, what we desire, what we read, what we listen to, and what we want. All these things shape our heart. Any of these things is capable of contaminating our heart.

Remember: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God.

The saints pray for us that we might wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb; they pray for us that we might purify our hearts; they pray for us that we might join their company.

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.