Homily for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Scripture readings for today's liturgy

In my parish this weekend, as part of our Month of All Souls observance, we especially remembered all those who were buried in our parish since last November...

Marked with the sign of faith,
written in the book of life

The signing or inscription of your name
can have a variety of meanings.
I write my name on checks, contracts
and all kinds of legal documents.
I sign my name at the end of a letter or on a greeting card.
I write my name in a guest book at a wedding or a wake.
I write my name to endorse a petition
or to sign up as a volunteer.

Our names are recorded as registered voters at the polls.
Someone inscribed our names in a baptismal register
kept now in a safe in the parish office of a church.
Our names were inscribed in similar books,
when you were married, when I was ordained.

Many of us have written the names of deceased loved ones
in these memorial books in front of the altar
during this month of November,
as a way of remembering and praying
for those who have gone before us.

In the first scripture today, the prophet Daniel writes
of those who will escape the time of great trial and distress,
those whose names are found written in the book of life.

In the Jewish scriptures,
the book of life is understood to be one in which all the worthy,
the faithful Chosen, are recorded for life:
Having your name recorded in that book was very important!

But as important as that was,
something of even greater value
was found in Jewish faith, and in ours as Christians, too,
that God has written something –not upon a page-
but upon our hearts:

In the book of Jeremiah the Lord says,
This is the covenant I will establish
with the house of Israel,

I will put my laws in their minds
and I will write them upon their hearts.
I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
(Jeremiah 31:31-34)

In other words,
God has autographed our hearts,
has written his name on our hearts,
branding them as his own,
marking us as those to be saved for life, forever.

In the month of November,
the Church calls us to remember,
to pray for all those who have gone before us
marked with the sign of faith at baptism

Think of what happens when we celebrate a baptism at Mass.
The priest, parents and godparents, using their thumb,
inscribe a small cross on the child’s forehead
and the priest says:
The Church welcomes you with great joy.
In its name I claim you for Christ our Savior

by the sign of his cross.

Whether by divine hand in an eternal ledger book,
or inscribed on a faithful heart,
or traced by parents' thumbs on an infant’s head,
God marks us, and records in his own heart
the names of those to whom he offers eternal life.

We pray in this month and especially this weekend
for all who have died, all who have gone before us
marked with the sign of faith.

The day will come when others will inscribe our names
in these books of remembrance
and pray for us when we have gone before them.

As Jesus reminds us in this day’s gospel:
we don’t know the day or the hour of the end of time,
nor do we know the day or the hour of the end of our own time.

But when that day comes, we trust that God will know us
for we have been marked with the sign of his Son’s cross and,
we pray, have been faithful to the law inscribed upon our hearts,
inscribed so that we might live by it and be worthy
of having our names written in the book of life.

Until then, week after week, year after year,
we gather at this altar, a table to remind us
that in heaven a place has been reserved for us,
a place to share with those who have gone before us.

May God find worthy those for whom we pray today
and us, too, when our own day and hour come to pass.

Image source: Bereans


1 comment:

  1. Good homily.

    My favourite quote on the subject of names is: Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name, you are mine. Isaiah 43:1-5.

    God bless.


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