All Saints (Spanish Mass)
Preached November 1, 2018; St. Peter Catholic Church, The Dalles, Oregon (Translated from Spanish)
In today’s 1st reading we heard about the saints in heaven that they have passed through the great distress and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Now they are before the throne of God and have attained to the fulfillment of the promise about which St. John spoke in the 2nd reading; they see God as he is, face to face.
This is our hope, but to accomplish it we too must wash our robes in the blood of the Lamb; we must purify ourselves as he is pure.
The saints have already reached the goal in heaven; what was possible for them is possible for us; they pray for us that we might join their company; together they form the heavenly city that is the fulfillment of the whole plan of God.
Now let me make a comparison to a reality that is well known by many here.
Many people have made great sacrifices in order to live and work here in the United States. They have made a long and dangerous journey, passing through a desert and crossing the frontier. In the end they have succeeded in improving the economic condition, but they live here without proper documentation, they have no legal standing in this country and they are in danger of being deported.
Now look, I have an US Passport; that is worth something here on earth, but it is of no use for entry into heaven.
Here we are all outside the heavenly city, but we should have a more fervent desire of entering there than anyone who desires to enter into the United States. We also need to recognize that in some ways it is much more difficult to get into heaven.
The last chapters of the final book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, describe the heavenly city as a city surrounded by a wall. Surely no one can undermine the wall, or tunnel under it, or climb over it. The only way to enter the city is through one of the twelve gates. We will not be able to bribe or deceive the guards at the gates. No one can get in without documents. We will need a valid passport in order to enter.
The book of Revelation tells us: Nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who does abominable things or tells lies (Rev 21:26)… Blessed are they who wash their robes so as to have the right to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates. Outside are the dogs, the sorcerers, the unchaste, the murderers, the idol-worshippers, and all who love and practice deceit. (Rev 22:14-15) Or we could refer to the words of St. Paul: The works of the flesh are obvious; fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not enter the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:19-21)
Of course all these evil deeds can be washed and made white by the blood of the Lamb, but to do so we need sincere repentance and the intention to amend our life and we need to confess our sin and make satisfaction or do penance in order to repair the damage we did in the presence of God.
We can say that we received the passport for the heavenly city when we were baptized, but the passport becomes invalid when we commit a mortal sin; when we go to confession we renew the passport.
Also I should say something about the way to the heavenly city. Our Lord says that the gate is narrow and the road is constricted that leads to life. (cf. Mt 7:14) This is the way of the Cross. As our Lord says: Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)
None of this is meant to discourage anyone. Rather we must realize that God has created us for something great indeed and we must avoid thinking lightly of heaven or taking it for granted. It is indeed something difficult, but as I said the saints teach us that it is possible, with the help of God’s grace to attain the goal, to enter the city through the gate, and to behold the face of God. The saints want us to join them. They are praying for us that we make the journey.
If so many people are willing to make such sacrifices in order to enter the United States and in the end if the life the find here is insecure, is it not worthwhile for us to make every effort and every sacrifice to attain eternal happiness in heaven?