October 31, 2017
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Tuesday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 480

Romans 8:18-25
Psalms 126:1b-2ab, 2cd-3, 4-5, 6
Luke 13:18-21

Praying Ordinary Time

Today, here in North America, is the Eve of All Hallows Day, or the night before the liturgical celebration of All Saints. There is quite a complicated cultural history explaining the relationship between these two days which is more than adequately explained elsewhere “online.” I offer this reflection from a Gospel perspective.

The synoptic writers offer their readers several dramatic pictures of religious leaders at the time of Jesus.  They are portrayed as having dressed themselves in garbs of righteousness while inwardly or spiritually being full of corruption and falseness. They appeared on the outside differently than Jesus knew them to be inside.

Jesus’ words undressed them, gave them a dressing-down. The apostle Paul got knocked off his high-horse of pretense and he is now a saint.

Halloween is a delightful day of pretending, dressing up and hiding one’s real identity. I once accompanied my three-year-old nephew who was decked out as a swaggering pirate, complete with a stuffed parrot on his shoulder and a plastic sword in hand. He would advance with a slight timidity to a neighbor’s opened door and announce in his squeaky voice, “Candy or your life!” In his eyes, for those few hours, he was a pirate! The next morning he was a three-year-young cereal-eating ex-pirate with chocolate on his chin. He did not relinquish his make-believe image easily.

All Saints Day is the celebration of those women and men who lived parts or most of their lives unpretendingly, uncostumed and available for showing up rather than showing off.

The Gospel for this Halloween-day Eucharistic celebration has two pictures of little, becoming large. The “Mustard seed” and the “Yeast” are real in their beginnings and their resultings.  These images of faith assist us in our human struggles to be who we really are and to show-up in order to show Him off. The “mustard seed” begins its rising to maturity through its wrestling through the soil in which it is buried. Its growth is slow and dependent on the gifts of sun, rain and wind. It reaches beyond itself, up, toward the beyond in a restless yearning for more. It is going to be more than it was, but only in time and with help. Its fruitfulness will be a result of its being what it was, is and will be. The reign of God has always made much of little and the little rises to extend its branches for welcome and sharing.

A portion of yeast changes flour into bread for the same purpose of being available for the nourishment of others. Like the seed, its littleness is not a cause for hiding, but for the simple involvement with flour and becoming much for others. Both parables are about humble honesty and resultant availability.  Those who dress up, hide, protect their self-truth from being known keep the seeds of possibility and the yeast of relationality buried in the soil of fear.

Our human experience can be a costume party. The simple yeast-grace of the Eucharist patiently raises us through our struggles of being disappointed in our human truth.  We rise and grow from pretense to projection of His Truth shared with us.   We are all more than we seem.  We are more because we have faith, even in our slowness of un-costuming. 

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