Tomorrow is Halloween - All Hallows eve. It is a great cultural festival that is full of fun memories - at least for me. When I was a kid, I enjoyed getting into a costume and going through the neighborhood for “trick or treating” and coming back with a ton of free candy and stuff. It was always one of the best evenings of the year!
When I got older and understood what All Hallows eve was in relationship to our religious celebration of All Saints Day - I still enjoyed celebrating Halloween, but the deeper and more meaningful celebration for me became All Saints Day.
All Saints Day became more meaningful for me because it is the celebration for the “unsung heroes.” It is the day in which we as a community of faith honor and remember those “blessed” who we might have known that lived among us with virtuous and faith-filled lives that honored God by their selfless and loving ways.
It may have been the Dad and Mom who sacrificed out of love for their family and were always there with their family, especially in difficult times.
It might have been the coach who didn’t just teach his or her sport to the team, but inspired his or her players to become kind and good women and men.
Or maybe it is the hourly worker who barely makes enough to get by, but found time to volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry so others might eat and be valued.
These “blessed” folks may not be known to the rest of the world and they certainly don't get their own holy day with their name on it like St. Patrick, St. Joseph, St. Theresa or St. Clare – but these holy women and men are nonetheless "saints" who are worthy of our imitation because through them and their love of God, God touches you and me and our world with Love.
However, All Saints Day isn’t just about remembering the unsung heroes. It is also a reminder as well as an invitation for you and me to renew our baptismal call to live in Christ and to be like Christ – to try to be holy and blessed - not just sometime in the future at some other place - but right here and now where we are living.
And for you and me to be blessed and holy as God calls us to be – you and I must remove our “masks” and “facades” – our Halloween costumes – and be who we really are in the eyes of God. To be the goodness that God created when God created you and me.
That is one of the reasons I love this weekend’s Gospel story from Luke about Zacchaeus.
Here is this man that tradition paints as someone who was of short stature and in cahoots with the Roman authorities as their chief tax collector. He was despised by his contemporaries.
And yet, Jesus sees him up in that tree.
Jesus sees Zacchaeus as God sees him. Jesus sees in him someone who could be blessed and holy; someone who just needed to feel and encounter the unconditional Love of God.
And Zacchaeus is changed by that experience of Jesus. Zacchaeus repents. He takes off the “masks” and the "facades" and becomes who he was intended to be by God. He reaches out to others and shares with them the love of God that he has experienced in Jesus.
Here is the best part, Jesus sees that goodness not just in Zacchaeus - but also in you and me.
The great feast of All Saints is a call for you and me to really try to live our lives as someone blessed and holy - to be Saints with our lives as God intends us to be.
God calls you and me to his company of Saints. To walk by the light of God's Grace. To trust in God's illuminating Love. And to share that unconditional Love with all that we encounter.
And by doing that, you and I will one day join in with all the Saints of God. And that is worth celebrating!
As always, if there is anything we can do for you at UB Catholic campus ministry, please let me know. We are here for you.
May God bless you with Peace and All Good.