All Souls Day
I COULD HAVE, BUT WOULD I?
There are people today, like Bartimaeus in this Gospel, who sit by the wayside and cry out for help. 24-hour news channels, Instagram, Facebook and other social media illustrate, with varying details, the kinds of horrific stories we too often hear that viewers weary of the repetition and harden their hearts.
The stories caught on cell phone video could happen anywhere. Shock waves of horror rock the world and put us to shame. The scene may be a toddler struck by a van in a hit and run accident and left to die on the pavement, a home break-in turned murder, or a teen-age boy gunned down while walking home after dark on a lonely stretch of roadway. You can imagine it – you’ve probably seen it in reality. They are all victims of violence of one sort or another! Many left dying unattended except by doorbell security cameras or gawking on-lookers. On film you can see people passing by, some going out of their way to avoid involvement.
Later in interviews, we can hear passersby make remarks like “But, it wasn’t my child. I didn’t know him. I didn’t want to get involved. Why should I bother?” A columnist shouts in print, “Shame on us!” A young student leader digs deeper, expressing a measured degree of hope that this untimely and inhumane death will cause an ever greater stir in regards to the value of human life. Reporters and commentators plead about the responsibility of families and society to care for their children, for each other in a way more powerful than any video could arouse. If one video of a dead toddler on a side street can cause millions of people around the world to stop and rethink their own morals, why can’t it spur others to craft legislation that may save lives in the future? What sort of change is possible? What about videos of young mothers leaving their newborn on the steps of a local fire station with a note saying she lives in a “food desert” and did not have a bus pass. And anyway, the fact is she could not afford to feed her baby? Would this cause a commotion and stir to action our society where one in six children go to bed hungry every night?” It does require that we each ask ourselves, “Would I have stopped to care for that abandoned person in the street?”
It is not only stories of horrific violence that can cause us to hang our heads in shame. Inspirational stories, too, of everyday heroic deeds can bring us to tears and evoke recognition that we probably would not have had the courage for similar acts of compassion. Such “warm, fuzzy news” may bring tears of emotion and waves of shame. Would I have cared enough to rescue a helpless toddler? Could I have braved jumping into the fray or the freezing water or moved between the bully and the victim? Are there times I could have, (but would I have) spoken up to divert the direction of a racial bias comment or harsh exchange of words? Did I miss the chance to welcome the person being ignored?
There is one thing I DO KNOW: Jesus would, and Jesus did! How do I know? A poor blind beggar named Bartimaeus tells us so! His friends who at first had shushed him, now encourage him – “Take up your courage; get up, Jesus is calling you.” Bartimaeus was dependent upon the eyes of his friends and the sound of Jesus’ voice beckoning him, as he made his way through the crowd. Jesus asked him, ”What is it you want of me?” “Master, that I may see.” “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
And, don’t be mistaken, this time Jesus didn’t say: “Follow me or come my way or go away.” There’s the lesson for us. Bartimaeus did not linger when Jesus said “Go your way.” That is exactly what he did. “He followed Jesus on the way.” That was his way. And in this process, Bartimaeus and his friends demonstrated for us what it means to “be a slave to all,” to serve those who cannot do even one thing in return for your loving them enough to stop and help. May we each have the sight and courage to lead those who are blind to Jesus that they, too, may see.
~Reflection by Sister Roberta Bailey, OSB, Prioress
First Reading: Jeremiah 31:7-9 Second Reading: Hebrews 5:1-6
Gospel Reading: Mark 10:46-52Continue Reading
All Souls Day – November 2nd
In prayer for loved ones lost to Covid
throughout the world,
Benedictine Sisters of FloridaContinue Reading
This week we will celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls day. The Festival of All Saints is a reminder of ordinary people who became extraordinary. This feast reminds us also that we who are ordinary are called to be extraordinary. We take care not to water down this hard challenge Jesus holds out to us.
At first the celebration of All Saints was strictly the celebration of the martyrs, the thousands who were faithful, whatever the cost, through the church’s humble, terrible early years of persecution. Did you know, or ever stop to think that more Christians were martyred in the past hundred years than in all previous history combined. Most of these martyrs are unnamed.
Another group of “saints” we do well to remember this week are all the innocent victims of abortion and of war – civilians and soldiers. And the staggering number of victims of domestic violence: 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more women have been killed by “intimate partners” than all of the victims in 9/11 and the American victims in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Pasco County alone, in the past year there were 3700 reported cases of domestic violence.
These people are especially in our minds this week. We acknowledge our debt to them and we thank God for making us members of such a family, with such a heritage – causing us to be proud and humble in the same instant.
The sign by which you can recognize our “living saints” is the readiness with which their water-pots, like the woman at the well, are lowered to quench another’s thirst. The cup of cold water is offered in Christ’s name for only He can give the living water for the human soul. We, his people, imitate him in pouring out the oil of kindness to any who need it.
Which finally brings us to the message in this weekend’s Gospel. The whole lesson in Jesus’ teachings is summed up in two commandments: Love the Lord, your God with your whole being and love your neighbor as yourself.”
I invite you this week to ponder how well you fulfill these two commandments – which is really one mandate. With that background, ponder the Beatitudes in the Gospel from Matthew for All Saints day. Imagine, then, yourself on that hillside with Jesus – seated in the midst of the crowd with a good view of Jesus. Now write down what you hear – your own version of the Beatitudes.
(For example BEATITUDES)
Looking at the rich man and his wife in peasant dress, who have a reputation for generosity, Jesus said: Blessed are the poor in spirit, the kingdom of God is theirs.
Seeing the family whose mother had recently died in childbirth, Jesus said: Bless are the sorrowing, they shall be comforted.
Turning to the family caring so compassionately for their only child who is in a wheelchair, Jesus said: Blessed are the lowly; they shall inherit the land.
Seeing some of John’s disciples, and sensing the people’s hunger for His words – inattentive to their own bodily hunger and thirst, Jesus said: Blest are they who hunger and thirst for holiness, they shall have their fill.
And seeing an old woman gently soothing a fretting infant so a young mother can rock her toddler to sleep, Jesus said: Bless are they who show mercy, mercy shall be theirs.
And looking at his disciples, knowing their desire to be always in His presence, Jesus said: Blest are the single-hearted for they shall see God.
Spotting a young father rolling a yarn ball back and forth to his two young sons who were squabbling over the ball, Jesus said: Blest are the peacemakers; they shall be called children of God.
Looking at the church officials who dared to follow him, Jesus said: Blessed are those who are persecuted for holiness sake; the reign of God is theirs.
Then Jesus speaks to you and to all the people: Blest are YOU when they insult you and persecute and have every kind of slander uttered against you because of me: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is great in heaven!