Our Connection With the Ones We Love
Opening Question: What did you dress up as on Halloween? What is the scariest thing about Halloween?
First Reading: Romans 8:31-34,38-39
If God is on our side, who is our enemy? God didn't stop his own Son from being killed for us. So, how can he stop himself from giving us everything good, along with Jesus? Who will bring charges against God's favorite people? God is the One who freed us from any charge. Who will say we're guilty? Jesus Christ is our defender. He died and, more important, rose again. He is right at God's side. And he asks favors from his Father for us. Who will separate us from God's love? Our pain and suffering? Those who hurt us? Hunger or a lack of clothes? Danger or the threat of death?
We have overcome all these things because of Jesus. He loves us that much. I am totally convinced that nothing will separate us from the love of God. Death or life will not. God's angels or earthly rulers will not. Current or future events will not. Powers of nature or some other creature will certainly not. Nothing will keep us from the love God showed us in Jesus Christ our Lord!
Out "Trick or Treating," Tommy ran from house to house, while his parents walked behind and watched him. This year Tommy was dressed in a black ninja outfit. Since the street had no street lights, only the house porch lights showed the figure of Tommy's outfit. Tommy thought he was invisible at night. So, he decided to lose his parents and have some fun.
Running from each house, he darted over yards to the corner and ran across the street without looking. Suddenly, he saw the headlights of a car coming toward him. He froze in place; he didn't know what to do. Just as suddenly, a hand grabbed his shoulder and pulled him toward the sidewalk just as the car past by.
Tommy the ninja looked up at the hand of the person who took him out of danger. It was his father's. His father was out of breathe running after Tommy but that didn't stop him from picking Tommy up and hugging him.
"I barely got you out of the way!" Tommy's father exclaimed. "I love you too much to lose you" Tommy felt safe in his father's arms.
In today's first reading, St. Paul tells that God the Father is with us. Like Tommy's father, God is willing to do extraordinary things to show his love. Nothing can get in the way of that love. While we will get sick and hurt, we have to do work and chores, and we might get hurt by people, knowing that our parents love us helps us get through. Knowing God loves us gives us the power to believe.
Bridging Question: Have you ever looked through family albums? Have you ever looked at the people in the photographs and wondered: "Who are these people?"
Gospel: John 12:23-28,32-33
Jesus told the crowd:
The time has come!
The Son of Man will be given glory!
If a grain of wheat stays on the stock,
it's just there by itself.
But if it dies and falls to the ground,
it will produce a lot more grain.
The selfish person dies lonely.
But the person who rejects selfishness will live forever.
If someone wants to serve me,
he should follow me where I am going.
Wherever I am, my servant will be there, too.
If someone wants to serve me,
my Father will honor him.
Now, I have doubts, but what should I say:
'Father, save me from this time of suffering'?
But I came to suffer for others.
Father! Show yourself to everyone!
Then a voice came from heaven. "I will show myself. And will do it again!"
When I am lifted up,
I will gather everyone to myself!
Jesus said this to show how he would die.
On a gray and rainy Saturday, David and Jessie were getting bored. They couldn't go outside to play. No one wanted to come over and play. They began to look for games to play, when the found themselves looking in the back bedroom closet. This was their mom's junk closet. It was the place their mom kept al her "special" stuff.
"Are you sure we should be in here?" Jessie said to David. But he was so busy rummaging through the closet, he didn't hear what she said.
"What's this?" he said. "I've never seen this before." He pulled down an old, dusty photograph album and dropped it on the back bedroom floor. "Look at this!" he exclaimed.
Now, Jessie was too interested to notice the small mess David created in the closet. In fact both children had puzzled but very interested faces looking through picture after picture in the album.
Suddenly, their mother popped her head in the door. "What are you two doing?" she asked as if she had spent some time trying to find them. But, then her look of near panic softened. David and Jessie relaxed, too, when they realized they weren't in trouble.
"Who are these people?" David asked.
Their mother came and sat down with the kids. "I haven't seen this book in years," she said with a big smile on her face. "Does this take me back. Do you see this man? He was my Uncle Sherman. He could make the best homemade ice cream..."
"People made ice cream at home?" Jessie asked in disbelief.
"Yes," her mother replied. "He picked fresh peaches from his trees, peal them, and create a mush. He added some cream he bought from the local dairy. Then he put in a little extra sugar. All that was mixed in a container. The container was put into a tub with ice and rock salt. An electric motor connected to the container ran most of the afternoon. For desert after dinner we had fresh ice cream. Was it good!" The kids could see their mother's mouth water as she could almost taste the ice cream again.
"What happened to Uncle Sherman?" David asked.
"He died in Vietnam," she said with a sad note in her voice. "1967, I think. His death was hard on the family..."
"Who's this?" Jessie asked pointing to an elderly woman in a long dress with a stern look on her face.
"That's your great, great grandmother Iris," their mother replied. "She died before I was born. But she was quite a woman." Their mother started to tell the story of how Iris worked long days as a maid to raise her eight children. Her husband died suddenly, so she was poor, but too proud to take charity. "Your grandfather Jack told lots of stories about her. The next time he comes over maybe he can tell you more."
For the next two hours, David and Jessie sat with their mother on the floor of that back bedroom and discovered their family history through the pictures they found in an old album. When they finished, they asked their mother to leave the old book out and to call their grandfather so he could tell them more about their family's history.
Like David and Jessie, we all have a family history. Maybe someone has told you a little about your family's past. Maybe you're seen old family pictures and wondered who the people in the pictures were. Many of these people may have passed away.
All Souls Day is a time to think about those who have died, especially those in your family. Many of these people heard the call of the Lord, when he said, "I will raise everyone up to myself." These people are in heaven. When we think about those who have died, let us remember God loves them, too. Let us pray for them. And ask them to pray for you.
Who can you pray for in your family?