Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Solemnity of All Saints

"When our Lord saw the crowds, he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, he whipped out his smartphone and began to tweet at them, saying: 'Shame on them who ...'"

How many of us long for that version of "The Sermon on the Mount"? How many of us look around at our brothers and sisters and struggle to find any worthy of the label "blessed"? How many of us prefer our petty little tribes to the strange and confusing beauty of our Parent's family?

There is a certain smallness to American culture and politics at our present moment in time. Everyone is stuck in their corners, bleating about this wound or that slight; each tribe attempting to outshout the others, but none succeeding. It is more tiresome than I can possibly describe, especially standing in comparison to that which we celebrate today: the Communion of Saints, aka our family.

In saying such things, I do not deny the reality of injustice and sin. But the Beatitudes are creatures of the kingdom, not the world. They are meant to be lived in the kingdom, not the world. Yes, this realm exists in the here and now, but not as the utopia of any of our plethora of isms. It cannot be found via human ingenuity, nor built by human institutions. The kingdom is a choice of heart and soul, a path to be trod each and every day; not the easiest to be sure, but the only road worth traveling.

So how does one get there? Choose the simplicity of loving your neighbor. Choose the nobility of doing good to those who hate you. Choose the truth that no amount of "progress" in technology or ideology can ever transform the world into something other than an unholy mess. And despite the latter, choose the honor of bearing grace to your siblings, starting with the most sinful and unworthy.

This is a vision made tangible in a set of tapestries hanging in the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles: a true communion of saints, ancient and new, famous and ordinary, a rainbow of diversity, all reveling in God's light and love with absolutely no regard for "official" saintly status.

This is the kingdom. This is our family. This is who we can be, if we so choose. It is perhaps a foolish vision. But if thus, then let me be an eternal fool, for it is a vision blessedly wonderful.