Does charity really begin at home? – All Saints & All Souls.
Perhaps one of the hidden dangers of keeping ‘All Saints Sunday’ is to project their goodness away from ourselves. To see sainthood as rarely bestowed, exceptionally lived out, the province of the miraculous and extraordinary. Examples perhaps, but ones that shouldn’t trouble us too much as they are so far removed from the normal, the average, the everyday human condition – hardly human at all, divine, godlike creatures. But the proximity of the feasts of All Saints and that of All Souls reminds us that the witness and example of the few, must also be reflected in the witness and example of the many. In Luke’s Gospel Jesus’s Sermon on the Plain confronts us with stark choices, for does charity really begin at home?
It has become a cliche to say that Advent is a time of preparation, especially as we so often seem to prepare for the expected rather than the unexpected. But what does it even mean to prepare? Are we being invited to make temporary and external arrangements, are the changes to be practical, visible but extrinsic? Is this to be but a brief hiatus before we return, once more, to ’normal’? Or are we being invited on a journey of transformation that is essentially intrinsic, perhaps even private and invisible to others, but which for us helps to uncover and discover our true selves, the true ‘us’ inside. Isn’t that what Jesus meant when he called us to life ‘in all its fullness’?
Due to illness – this week we have a short video meditation.
For the festival of Christ the King, this poem entitled ’The Kingdom’ was written by R.S. Thomas 1913-2000.
Today we make an act of commemoration but not celebration; we hold in our prayers those who have died and suffered in two world wars, in countless regional conflicts since, and in peace-keeping duties across the world. We mourn their loss and their suffering; the failure of politics and diplomacy that led to their sacrifice on the altar of human pride, obstinacy and indifference, and we also confess the darkness in our own hearts that all too often gives way to anger and seeks retribution. We pray that humanity may, before it is too late, consign war to the sins of history, and instead walk the ways of conciliation and peace.