31 October, Saturday — Garments of Saintliness and Holiness

Saturday of Week 30 in Ordinary Time

Phi 1:18-26
Lk 14:1,7-11

“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the man who humbles himself will be exalted”

Last year on this day, my wife and I were invited to celebrate Halloween in our community in Hong Kong (where we were living then). It was a wonderful night as the kids, all decked out in costumes (ours was a dragon), went from door to door calling, “Trick or treat!”. Our little one ate lots of candy that night, and I continued to consume the Halloween candy for weeks after that.

This year, we are back in Singapore. But we are not far from the same motifs that define Halloween, i.e. Jack-O-Lanterns, pumpkins, costumes, monster-themed candy, etc. Much less known however, is the Christian origins of this celebration. Halloween, or ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ is, in actual fact, the eve of the Feast of All Saints, a day that traditionally involved fasting, prayer, and vigil.

Hence instead of feasting on candy, we are supposed to be fasting and praying. Instead of dressing up as monsters, we are supposed to be reflecting on the lives of the saints. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus reminds us to humble ourselves and take the lowest place. God should be the only one who will exalt us or move us to a higher position. On this Hallows’ Eve, we look upon the holy saints and reflect on how far we are from them and pray for God’s saving hand to move us closer to them.

Rather than saying ‘trick or treat’ (both of which would no doubt enhance our material enjoyment, whether in the form of candy or being able to play a prank on someone), we should instead be thinking about the treats that we should be giving up on this special day, as well as the ways in which we can avoid the devil’s tricks. We are not humans dressed as monsters; we are sinners who are hoping to put on the garments of saintliness and holiness.

The challenge of living a Christian vocation in an increasingly secular world involves choosing the saints over monsters, Jesus over Santa Claus, and the risen Christ over the Easter bunny. As Christians, we should reclaim the festivals that we hold so deeply in our hearts, whether it is All Hallows’ Eve, Christmas or Easter, and reject the self-centeredness and materialism that have somehow become associated with these holy days.

(Today’s Oxygen by Jacob Woo)

Prayer: Lord, we pray for Your continued guidance and spiritual sustenance in our worldly existence, so that like the saints, our lives here can catapult us into the life that is to come.

Thanksgiving: We are thankful for the example of the saints, who in their humility continue to inspire us to greater holiness in this life and the next.

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