The Mass readings for the 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time remind us of the primary commandments: love of God and neighbor. The following Sunday we celebrate the great Solemnity of All Saints, witnesses of the Ten Commandments as well as the Eight Beatitudes.

Social laws

Life_Giving Faith.pdf

The 30th Sunday in Ordinary Time readings begin with Chapter 22 in the Book of Exodus. We hear details of guiding norms for social laws on how to treat foreigners, widows, orphans, as well as how to lend money without high demands and to return what was borrowed in good faith. Any compromise of good will provokes an outcry by the offended, who then turn to God. He responds with compassion and comfort to the mistreated, abused and marginalized. We are called to follow God’s compassionate lead by giving of ourselves for the good of the other. Am I aware of the social norms promoting the good of others? How familiar am I with the seven themes of Catholic Social Teachings; themes that guide our actions in living holy lives and a just society? (For more go to

Be imitators

In St. Paul’s Letter to the Thessalonians, he acknowledges their powerful conversion from idolatry to the one true God and thus “a model for all the believers” in their proclamation of the word of God and by bringing others to Christ. By our baptism, we become part of the mystical body of Christ. Christ is our model of faith; a faith handed on to us by others with hope and love. This faith is infused with the word of God that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, transforms our thoughts and actions to imitate Christ.

The Holy Spirit empowers us with gifts of wisdom, understanding, fortitude, counsel, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord which move us into action. Still further, the fruits of the Holy Spirit fill us with virtues to respond with love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, generosity, gentleness, modesty, chastity and self-control. Am I calling upon the Holy Spirit for assistance as I strive to imitate Christ?

Thomas A Kempis, in his book “The Imitation of Christ,” writes, “If you want to see clearly and avoid the blindness of heart, is it his (Jesus) virtues you must imitate. Make it your aim to meditate on the life of Christ … to this spiritual nourishment you must seek to have the spirit of Christ. It is because we lack in this Spirit that so often, we listen to the Gospel without really hearing it.” Am I truly listening and hearing the Gospel in order to share the joy with others?

Greatest commandment in the law

Once again, the Pharisees test Jesus by placing a scholar of the law in his presence to ask which of the commandments is the greatest, knowing fully that each commandment is held in equal esteem. Jesus says the first and greatest commandment is to love God with your entire being, followed closely with love your neighbor as yourself. When love is centered on God and neighbor, we place ourselves at the humble service of both and fully imitate the mystery of Jesus’ fidelity to his chosen.

Imitators of love

There is a natural desire for happiness placed in the heart of every person by God. Why? For the simple reason to draw all to the one who “alone can fulfill this desire,” our heavenly father, creator (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1718). God is our source of life, our rock, defender, deliverer, shield, stronghold, protector, strength, to whom we profess our love. True happiness extends to our neighbor, whom we are called to witness God’s love, empowering them to recognize God’s call in their life as a child of God and their call to conversion. Realize that we are all called to be saints. Each moment, each thought, each action, each word, every prayer, meditation, reflection, holy pause and yes, even suffering, is an opportunity of growth in holiness as we imitate the Lord.

All Saints Day reorients the faithful to the heart of the Gospel, as we remember generations of men and women from diverse age groups, nationalities, ethnicities and cultures who, marked with the sign of faith, gave GREAT witness to the commandments and to the beatitudes, many to the point of death.

St. John Paul II writes, “Today’s liturgy speaks completely of holiness. But to know the way to holiness we must go with the apostles up the mount of the beatitudes to draw near to Jesus and listen to the words of life that come from his lips. The saints took these words of Jesus seriously. They believed that they would find ‘happiness’ by putting them into practice in their lives. And they realized their truth in everyday experience: despite their trials, moments of darkness and failures, they already tasted here below the deep joy of communion with Christ. In him they discovered the initial seed, already present in time, of the future glory of God’s kingdom” (homily, Nov. 1, 2000).

Where am I seeking happiness? Am I a witness of happiness found in the love of God and neighbor? Am I asking the Lord to help me to become a saint? Do I recognize the saints who have journeyed the path of eternal beatitude? Do I seek communion with God now, while looking forward to everlasting communion in heaven?

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “Today’s celebration of the Solemnity of All Saints invites us to rejoice in our communion with the saints in heaven, to implore their intercession for the church on earth and to follow their footsteps in the way of holiness. May the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary and all the saints strengthen us in faith and fervent hope in the fulfilment of Christ’s promises. Amen” (Angelus, Nov. 1, 2008).

Dow is the director of the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis for the Diocese of Baton Rouge.