Homily Notes for the Sunday of All Saints

Sunday of All Saints

St. Matthew 10:32-33, 37-38; 19:27-30

Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

[Happy Father’s Day, Welcome, Introduction on Kenosis]

What are we to make of this difficult Gospel?  There is a fundamental truth that you know from your own experience:  you cannot offer to others what you do not have.  You cannot bring peace, healing, and salvation to your family if you yourself are not intimately tied to the source of peace, healing, and salvation.  You cannot save a drowning parent or child if you yourself are drowning. 

[There could come a time when a man is forced to decide between Christ and his own family] .  On this decision depends all his eternity, and also the eternity of his kinsmen.  Never in life will a man be confronted with a more terrible choice, and he cannot take one step in one direction and the next in another.  A man cannot, at such a moment, make division of his heart, but must place it on one side or the other.  If you worship Christ in your heart, you can save your kinsfolk as well as yourself; if your heart worships father and mother, son and daughter, you will certainly lose both yourself and them.   St. Nikolai Velimirovic, “Homily on the Sunday after Pentecost.

[Develop theme of drowning]

  • Best to stand on solid ground when saving a drowning person (Christ the solid rock!).
  • False metaphor: giving up your place in the lifeboat.  You cannot sell your soul to bring others to salvation.

All Saints: the psychology of social norms, sin and salvation

  • We tend to think of ourselves as discrete entities, but we are not.
  • Whether you think of yourself as part of a living body (i.e. the church – or its abomination, the connected world) or not, science clearly demonstrates that much of the sensory input and heavy liting for moral decision-making comes from outside our own bodies.
  • We are hard-wired to imitate (and see as normative) the actions of those around us.  Then our brains kick in to puff up our ego and assert our individualism; but that is just marketing for our pride.

Life Hack: surround yourself with saints.  Know – not just intellectually as some kind of abstract theology, but in your gut – that they surround and support you.  How do we do this?  Three ways.

  • The prayers of the church affirm their presence. 
  • Fill your vision with icons.  Not just in your icon corner, but throughout your home, your car, and your workplace.
  • Ask for their help and intercession.  It’s real.
  • The last one is to avoid surrounding yourself with images that will pull you away from chastity and holiness.  What is the primary image in most homes?  The screen?  What is it full of?  Why?  To affect our behavior.  Don’t let it be the primary influence on your life!

Everything is turned upside down (in the theater). Who is it that plots against our marriages? Is it not the theater?  Don’t you see how this makes it impossible for women to love their husbands?  Don’t you see how this leads husbands to disdain their wives?  Don’t you see how this encourages insatiability, adultery, and divorce?  This is how it is not just with the theater itself; the theater-goers themselves are subversive of our families and community; they bring a grievous tyranny among themselves and into our midst.  St. John Chrysostom, “Homily 37”.

The bottom line

It is easier for the Christian who actually prays the prayers of the Church in her daily prayer life, surrounds herself with icons, and avoids the excesses of Hollywood and Madison Avenue to live well because she knows from the depth of her heart that she lives among the saints.  She has set herself up for success.

One final thought [drawing on the parallel between marriage and the Church]: 

  • What would you think of a married man who spent more time hanging out at the bar with his bachelor and adulterous friends than with his wife? 
  • What would you think of a wife who spent more time complaining about men with her friends than nurturing her marriage? 
  • How long would you expect their marriages to last?  And if they lasted, how happy would you expect that marriages to be? 

We have to be intentional about our relationships with one another in order to find peace and joy within them.  It is the same for our relationship with Christ.  We cannot live healthy Christian lives without nurturing our relationship with Him.  He is Incarnate in His Church.  That means that we must devote ourselves to the life of this God-protected parish of St. Michael’s.

You can visit our YouTube channel to see recordings of this and other homilies as they were actually offered.