We are in the 30th Sunday in ordinary time. This Sunday Jesus in the Gospel gives us the greatest commandments; the love of God and neighbor, in loving others we love God.
The first reading, taken from the book of Exodus explains the second greatest commandment, namely, loving one’s neighbors. The chosen people of Israel should remember that once they were in slavery in Egypt. Just as God protected them and treated them kindly, so they are to protect others and treat them with kindness. In the second reading, St. Paul congratulates the Thessalonians on the positive effects of their example of loving one another as Jesus had commanded them to do. Their mutual love and their loving reception of Paul and response to his preaching strengthened the Faith of Christians elsewhere who heard about them. In the Gospel today, Jesus combines the commandment to love God with the commandment to love one’s neighbor and gives the result as one Commandment of supreme importance in Christian life. Jesus underlines the principle that we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves because as God’s children both of us bear God’s image, and to honor God’s image is to honor Him. Love for our neighbor is a matter, not of feelings, but of deeds by which we share with others the unmerited love of God.
In the coming week we will celebrate two important events in the Church — All Saints Day on November 1 and All Souls Day on November 2. On the solemnity of All Saints Day, we celebrate the holy men and women of every time and place, canonized or beatified, who are now in heaven. Some were famous; others lived simpler lives doing God’s work on earth relatively unnoticed. On this day, we remember both those who have been publicly recognized by the Church for their heroic sanctity of life and holiness, and also those countless other brothers and sisters who have faithfully followed Christ in life and have reached the final destiny of their earthly pilgrimage, the Heavenly Jerusalem.
All Saints Day is a Holy Day of Obligation and we will have two Masses here at Santa Sophia, 8:00 am and 7:00 pm. The children from the academy will process into the 8:00 am Mass dressed in their favorite saint’s costume. Parents, I hope you are preparing a saint’s costume for your child for Halloween when they go Trick-or-Treating. This way, you don’t have to buy two different costumes. Dressing your children in a saint’s costume has another advantage as well — you and your family can evangelize as you go around the neighborhood Trick-or-Treating.
The following day, November 2nd, is All Souls Day. On this occasion, we recall the lives of all of our faithfully departed; but most of all, we recall those who have gone before us in faith during the past year. It is a special day for us to remember and pray for our dear ones who have gone before us in the eternal reward and are currently in a state of ongoing purification. We pray for our departed brothers and sisters because we share with them the hope that, through God’s all-merciful love, they, body and soul, will be with the Lord on the Last Day and forever.
These November traditions — All Saints and All Souls Days—express our belief in the communion of saints. As Preface for the Dead # 1 in the Roman Missal reads, “With death, life is changed, not ended.” Our Masses and prayers this month voice our hope that Christ will eventually bring all of us home, together.
On All Souls Day we will have two Masses, one in the morning at 8:00 and a special Mass at 6:00 in the evening. At the evening service, we will read the names of all those who have died during the preceding year. This solemn reading of names allows us to remember those who have passed and to pray for them in a special way. The parish office sent letters to all those families who lost loved ones over the past year, inviting them to the All Souls Mass. However, the Mass is open to all parishioners. I invite you to attend this special Mass on Thursday, November 2nd at 6:00 pm. There will be refreshments served in the parish hall immediately following the 6:00 pm Mass.
We also have a special All Souls Novena of Masses for our deceased loved ones. If you want your loved ones to be on the Novena prayer list, please complete the envelopes for our All Souls Novena of Masses. The envelopes are available on the side tables at all entrances to the church. After you fill out the envelope, you may either drop it in the collection basket or return it to the parish office.