YEAR C: HOMILY/REFLECTION FOR THE 30TH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
TOPIC: SINNERS AND SAINTS
BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Sunday Gospel: Luke 18:9-14 (The Pharisee and the Sinner)
Message # 163: “Do Not Feel You Are Alone”
(TO THE PRIESTS, Our Lady’s Beloved Sons, Marian Movement of Priests)
1. The Marian Message: “Do Not Feel You Are Alone”
Mary calls us to battle against the evil forces. In this battle, we should never feel alone. The Church Suffering and Church Triumphant are one with us in this battle. Heaven and earth are united (letter i).
The priests who are now in heaven are joining us in this battle (letters b, e and f).
The saints in heaven as well as the souls in purgatory are one with us (letter d).
The angels of God, with Mary, the Queen of Angels, are also with us in this warfare. (letters g and h).
a) November 1st is the Feast of All Saints. Their names cannot all be contained in the calendar. Those in the calendar are only the famous ones. But there are countless other saints: “After this I had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.” (St. John’s account in Rev. 7:9-14). This is the sight in heaven where all the saints and angels see God face-to-face (beatific vision of God). There is perfect happiness in heaven because those who are made worthy to join enjoy the beatific vision of God.
On the other hand, Hell is the absence of God. The souls suffer eternally in hell since there is no hope of being with God; it is the total and absolute absence of God.
We go to the cemetery on All Saints’ Day, but we are reminded that it is the day of the saints. We pray and hope that our departed loved ones are now in heaven with God and the saints.
b) November 2nd is All Souls Day. A person who commits mortal sins is forgiven through the sacrament of Reconciliation/Penance. But the temporal punishments of sin (mga mantsa o peklat ng sugat sa kaluluwa) still remain. Every grave sin is an offense against God. He forgives our sin, but there is the need to fulfill the justice of God. These are called temporal punishments of sin, and will be erased through our sacrifices on earth, especially by gaining indulgences. Those still remaining will be cleansed in purgatory (“purgation”- purification). When totally cleansed, only then can the soul enter heaven. The souls in purgatory are happy (they are often referred to as “holy souls in purgatory”) because they are assured of seeing God soon. Heaven is sure. But they are suffering, first, due to the pain of purification (the same fire as in hell, but the fire is for purification, not punishment); and second, because they still cannot be with God. (Waiting eagerly to see a loved one is torture! Few minutes of waiting seem an eternity.) That is why we are all encouraged as one of the meritorious spiritual works of mercy, to pray for the dead, the souls in purgatory. If it is meritorious to help the body (corporal works of mercy), it is more meritorious to help the soul (spiritual works of mercy).
c) The best way to help our beloved departed is to gain a plenary indulgence, and offer it for a soul (this is called suffrages) so that it will finally go to heaven. On the first eight days of November that we go to the cemetery to visit and pray for the faithful departed and the souls in purgatory, we gain a plenary indulgence. On other days of November, we gain a partial indulgence. The other necessary conditions to gain an indulgence: sacramental confession, holy communion, and pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
d) There is only one Church. But there are three stages: Church Militant, Church Suffering and Church Triumphant. “Militant” (The church in the world). Everyday we militate, struggle and fight against sin and evil); “Suffering” (The Church in Purgatory); “Triumphant” (Heaven, our true home. cf. Rev. 7:14).
e) Special Note: Halloween. It is an old English term which means “eve of the hallows” (the evening before the feast of the holy ones). So before the “hallows” (holy ones) come, the evil spirits (demons, witches, vampires, etc) are having their last hurrah, because the next morning they are already gone. So, Halloween is not supposed to be a celebration of the characters of darkness. It is a joyful anticipation of the children of God in view of the coming of the saints. It should be our prayer that we be numbered among them. It is best, therefore, to dress up our children with costumes of saints, and not of vampires and witches.
Reflections on the Gospel
a) The Gospel gives a contrast between the prayer of the Pharisee and the prayer of the public sinner. (Illustrate the contrast.)
b) The spirituality of the Pharisees is that of arrogance and pride. This ends up in isolation. He thinks he is better than the others. So he has to be separated from them in order not to be tainted by their sins. The term Pharisee, after all, comes from the Aramaic “prisayya”, which means, ‘separated ones’. In effect, he is isolated from the others. He is up there; the others are way down there. He looks down on them. He is also isolated from God. He does not need God anymore. He thinks he has no need to ask forgiveness from God. In fact, his prayer is more of a boastful report to God of how good and holy he is. This is the worst attitude of the Pharisees: self-sufficiency, pride and arrogance.
c) The spirituality of the public sinner is that of genuine humility. He acknowledges he is sinful. He is no better than the others. So in prayer, he could not even lift his head. He bows down and asks pardon from God. So he leaves the temple justified. He makes connection with God in his sincerity and humility. This leads also to his solidarity and unity with the others who are in need of God’s mercy and pardon. He is not isolated. Rather, he is united with the others.
d) This is what our Blessed Mother wants of us. True unity among ourselves is quite possible when we are humble and sincere in our relationship with God and our fellowmen. On the other hand, when there is pride and egoism, it is impossible to achieve unity. This is very clear in our experience in the BEC’s and organizations. In any given group, when there is somebody who is boastful and arrogant, there is difficulty in achieving unity and progress. The whole group suffers. It is very important that the leader must really be humble and sincere. In this way, he becomes the leaven of unity in the community, a true leader, indeed! And when there is unity in prayer and in love, there is God! And when there is God, we begin to experience Heaven!
Closing: Action Song –Ang Buhay Kristiyano ay Masayang Tunay!
GUIDE QUESTIONS FOR SHARING IN THE BEC:
- Ano ang mga hadlang sa pagkakaisa ng BEC?
- Paanong nakasisira sa pagkakaisa ng pamayanan ang kayabangan at kapalauan?
- Bakit kapag Undas, sa halip na pag-usapan ng mga tao ang tugkol sa mga kaluluwa sa purgatory, mga anghel at makalangit na mga bagay, mas interesado sila tungkol sa mga maligno, bampira at mga multo?