On October 31 and November 1 each year, the church gives us a high feast days to a celebrate in All Souls and All Saints Day. We are reminded in the scripture readings of the day that we too are part of the communion of all the souls and saints that have gone before us and bear the name “Children of God.” It’s a name that is a permanent and eternal characteristic of our humanity. The Divine presence is part of our very DNA. It’s in our families, co-workers, fellow citizens, and even those with opposing political views. That same Divine DNA is found in those who are homeless, in prison, and the undocumented immigrant. That includes those we would just as soon not be around: Those who have hurt us. People we resent. Folks who’ve been unfair, judgmental, and blaming toward us. Those who hate us because of who and what we are. Yes, like it or not, we are all sisters and brothers, children of the same Father.
I don’t often admit that sometimes it’s tough for me to hang in there with these children of God, my sisters and brothers. Sometimes I can talk a good talk, believing that I love and care for them all, even believing that my good intensions might make me a more special and more lovable child of God. That somehow, somewhere, I am going to talk the right stuff, pray the right prayers, give enough dollar bills to the panhandler on the corner, that will finally make myself right with God. Eventually, it all collapses under the weight and fear of my false self, when in a blinding flash of the obvious, I realize that Jesus has already made me right with God.
There are, of course deeds to be done in being a child of God but it’s not the kind of deeds that involve trying to fake it with others or with God. It is the everyday, unnoticed hard work of love — finding the patience to be with an annoying person who happens to need my help. The courage to not attack or fight back against those who have hurt or wronged me. Getting my hands dirty in the labor of social justice. Inconveniencing my life to bring comfort, joy, and hope to another. Digging deep into my soul for the grace to love those who dislike or hate me.
God’s unceasing energy is to bring us to the realization that each of us is a child of God, each of us is sister and brother, each of us is marked with the very same DNA of God’s divine existence, not just in name but in our guts, our heart, and our soul. Each of us contains holiness deserving to be reverenced, as witnessed by the life of St. Mother Teresa who wrote, “I do not serve you because you are needy; I serve you because you are holy.”
Whether the faces are brown, black or white, or the color of the eyes a rainbow of blue, green or chocolate, to recognize that holiness in the face of another is to experience our own authentic holiness and identity as children of God. There we can celebrate the lives of those who have gone before us, our sisters and brothers, and share in the on-going mystery of the Incarnation in each of us. May our rememberance of the lives of the faithful bring us hope for the future, courage in the face of challenges, and joy in the promise of everlasting life.