In November our Church calls us to remember the remarkable of the Church both recognized (All Saints) and those unrecognized (All Souls). We set up memorial tables, reverence the book of the dead and attend memorial Masses. All the while taking comfort in the idea that we are doing our duty of remembrance for the dead.
If someone asks you if you are a saint what would you tell them? Oh, no, not me, I’m not good enough for that. Wrong answer! The Church recognizes two types of saints. Saints with a capital “S” are those we have heard the heroic stories about. Saints with a lower case “s” are all of us who were/are believers. That makes you and me a saint. We are all in transition between the little “s” and the big “S”. That’s what the journey of faith is all about.
Besides the Saints, November in the Church year contains other noteworthy things. In the liturgical cycle this is also the month mirroring the “end times”. It is the finish of Church year and the preparation for us to start anew. In November we hear all of the serious reminders (Gospels) warning us that we are running out of time. The Church challenges us to seriously take stock. The Gospel readings focus on being prepared, paying attention and meeting the responsibilities that are tied to the gifts God has given us already.
Most of us know the story of the “talents”. But few of us know what a talent is. In a bit of history you might be interested to understand that one talent was the price that ancient traders valued one amphora (clay jug) at. An amphora held 61 gallons of olive oil. Even one talent was no insignificant amount of money. Many people can quote some form of Luke’s version of this parable:
“I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.” (Lk 19:27)
This strong rebuke from the King was pointed at the servant who, in fear, hid the talent he was given and returned it with no increase, not even interest from the safest form of investment.
If you don’t stop at: “I’m doing pretty well, the Lord has really blessed me.” ,the most important part of the lesson is in the rebuke. The parable is not a demo that some people get a lot of good stuff and others do not. The amounts listed are not the point. The servant was called wicked because he exercised fear which stopped him from growing the talent. The Lord invests in everyone, some more some less. He expects the same from all: Do not hide any gift the Lord has given you.
“[The parable] emphasizes the severe treatment given to the man who dared to hide the gift received. (From the blessing of Saint John Paul II, Saint Peter’s Square, December 30, 1987)”
As far as the duties of a saint in transition, what are your responsibilities? As we approach “the end” we should take no false comfort in the idea that we have prayed for the dead in November and that our finances, home and family are in relatively good shape. Rather it’s our duty, as well as responsibility, to be in communication with the Lord and to “do whatever he tells you.” (Jn 2:5)
“ To become a saint means to fulfill completely what we already are, raised to the dignity of God’s adopted children in Christ Jesus….” ( Pope Benedict XVI) The way we do that is to;”… use the gifts of God in order to make them fruitful, to “sow” and to “reap”.
If we do not, even what we have will be taken away from us. (Saint John Paul II, Op. Cit.)” Do not make the dangerous error of mistaking prosperity for permission to complacency. The call to the end is really the energy for the beginning.