God is Love...

Catechetical Center of Bangkok

All Saints
Revelation 7:2–4, 9–14; 1 John 3:1–3; Matthew 5:1–12

Dooley’s Beatitudes
The Beatitudes extend not only to the poor but also to
those who reach out to the poor.
Dr. Tom Dooley excited the imagination
of the world in the 1950s.
He was a young navy doctor,
fresh out of medical school.

One afternoon
Tom’s ship picked up a thousand refugees
adrift off the coast of Vietnam.
Tom was the only doctor on board;
so he plunged into the backbreaking job
of helping these people.
Soon an excitement grew inside him.
He saw how a simple cast
soothed a broken arm.
He saw how a simple lancing
relieved a swollen hand.
He saw how the simplest medical treatment
brought smiles to pain-filled faces.
But Tom saw something else, too.
He saw that helping these people
made him happier than he had ever been
in his whole life.
When Tom’s hitch in the navy was over,
he went back to Asia to work among the poor.
Immediately, volunteers flocked to help him.
One day Tom confided to a colleague
that he had always loved
the Sermon on the Mount,
especially the Beatitudes.
One reason why he loved the Beatitudes
was because they promised happiness.
“ ‘Blessed’ means ‘happy,’ ’’ Tom said,
“and that’s what I want to be.’’
Dooley then shared his own personal vision
of the Beatitudes.
He used one of them to illustrate.
Let me read his own words:
“ ‘Blessed are they that mourn’ . . .
means something special to me. . . .
‘Mourn,’ as used in the Bible,
doesn’t mean to be unhappy.
It simply means . . .
to be more aware of the sorrow in the world
than of the pleasure. . . .
“If you’re extrasensitive to sorrow . . .
and do something . . . to make it lighter—
you can’t help but be happy.
That’s just the way it is.’’ Guideposts
Dooley’s vision of the Beatitudes
is both different and refreshing.
It’s different
because we usually think of the Beatitudes
as being addressed only to the sorrowing:
the poor, the hungry, the homeless.
Dooley sees them as also being addressed
to those who help these people.
And this is what makes his vision so different.
Dooley’s vision of the Beatitudes
is also refreshing.
We don’t just read the Beatitudes
and rejoice that God
will someday make sorrowing people happy.
On the contrary,
we are motivated to want to do something
to help these people, just as Dooley did.
And there’s not one of us who can’t do that.
There’s not one of us who is so poor
that we can’t reach out
to a needy brother or sister.
An example will illustrate.
During the Great Depression
a government agency had the job
of traveling the Tennessee mountain country
to give small grants to poor farmers
so that they could buy seed
or make needed repairs on their homes.
One day
he came upon a woman living in a shack.
It had no floor.
Several windows were broken
and covered with tar paper.
The woman was barely scratching out a living
on a tiny plot of land.
The agent said to her,
“If the government gave you $200,
what would you do with it?’’
The woman thought a minute and said,
“I reckon I’d give it to the poor.’’
That woman is a living example
of the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount.
It was of people like her that Jesus said,
“Happy are those
who know they are spiritually poor,
the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
It was of people like her that saints are made,
the saints we honor today.
It is people like her who inspire us
to become better Christians.
Let’s close
with a prayer:
Lord, help us
not only read your word
but also follow it.
Help us
not only admire your teachings
but also obey them.
Help us
not only profess our faith in you
but also practice it.
Help us
not only love your Gospel
but also live it.

All Saints
Revelation 7:2–4, 9–14; 1 John 3:1–3; Matthew 5:1–12
Dry Leaf and Mud Pie
Without Jesus we can do nothing; with Jesus we can do
all things.
There’s an ancient Hindu parable
about Mud Pie and Dry Leaf.
They were very good friends.
As they approached old age together,
they decided to make a religious pilgrimage
to Banaras, the Hindu holy city
on the banks of the Ganges River.
They believed
that if they washed in that sacred river,
all the sins of their lifetime would be erased.
They were well aware
of the distance and the danger of the trip.
They knew
that heavy rains and strong winds
were the two greatest hazards
they would face.
So they decided on a clever strategy.
When the heavy rains poured down,
Dry Leaf would shield Mud Pie
until the rainstorm was over.
And when the heavy winds blew,
Mud Pie would sit on Dry Leaf
until the windstorm was over.
And so one bright sunny morning,
Dry Leaf and Mud Pie
set out on the long, difficult pilgrimage
to the holy city of Banaras.
They had traveled just a short distance
when the sky clouded over
and the rain began to pour down.
Dry Leaf shielded Mud Pie
until the rain was over.
Their strategy worked perfectly,
and they were very happy.
Then they set out again.
This time they went a little farther
before the sky clouded over
and the wind began to blow violently.
Mud Pie sat on Dry Leaf
until the wind died down.
Again their strategy worked perfectly,
and they were very happy.
Then the two friends set out again.
This time
they had gotten almost to the holy city
before the sky clouded over.
Then something terrible happened.
The rain poured down and the wind blew
at the same time.
Although the two friends tried their best
to help each other, it was of no use.
Dry Leaf blew away
and was never seen again.
And Mud Pie was washed away
and was never seen again.
Ilike that parable
because it illustrates a very important point.
The point is this:
There comes a time in life
when no matter how much
we are loved and helped by another,
it is not enough.
Even the love and the help of our best friend
are of no avail.
There comes a time in life
when we need God’s help.
There comes a time in life
when God alone can provide us
with the kind of help that we need.
And that brings us back to the first beatitude
of the Sermon on the Mount
in today’s gospel reading:
“Happy are those who know
they are spiritually poor;
the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!”
To be “spiritually poor’’ means
to realize the point
that the Hindu parable makes
in such a graphic way.
It means to realize
that without God in our lives,
we are nothing.
In other words,
to be “spiritually poor’’ means
to understand in a deeply personal way
these memorable words of Jesus:
“I am the vine,
and you are the branches. . . .
[Y]ou can do nothing without me.
Those who do not remain in me
are thrown out like a branch
and dry up.” John 15:5–6
It was this great truth
that the saints understood well.
It was this great truth
that was the secret of their holiness.
They knew that without Jesus,
they were spiritually poor.
They were spiritually bankrupt.
And so the saints made it
the “number one’’ priority in their lives
to stay united with Jesus.
And they did this, especially,
through the sacraments and prayer.
For Jesus also said that
those who remain united to him
will bear much fruit—
and at the end of this earthly life,
they will enter into eternal life.
This is the good news
that is contained in the first beatitude
of the Sermon on the Mount:
“Happy are those who know
they are spiritually poor.”
This is the good news
that we take to heart on today’s feast.
This is the good news
that we celebrate together in this liturgy
on the feast of All Saints.
This is the good news
that Jesus wants us to carry forth
into our world
when we leave this church today.

All Saints
Revelation 7:2–4, 9–14; 1 John 3:1–3; Matthew 5:1–12a
Commitment is the courage and readiness to do
what needs to be done.
Happy are those
whose greatest desire
is to do what God requires.” Matthew 5:6
John Washington appeared
to be just your ordinary teenager
from Newark, New Jersey.
Beneath the surface, however,
he was not so ordinary.
Even before he entered high school,
he had pretty much made up his mind
to become a priest.
John was ordained at age 25.
When World War II broke out
eight years after his ordination,
he volunteered as an army chaplain.
Within months, he was boarding
a freighter that had been
quickly converted into a troop ship
called the Dorchester.
The crew’s destination was Greenland
and then Europe.
Boarding the ship with Washington
was George Fox,
a Methodist chaplain
who had served as a teenager
in World War I.
After the war,
he felt the call to ministry.
When World War II broke out,
he was quick to enlist again,
this time as a chaplain.
They were joined
by Rabbi Alexander Goode
from York, Pennsylvania.
Rabbi Goode was convinced
that it would be the United States
who would have to stop the Nazis
from conquering all of Europe.
And he wanted to do his part.
His working relations
with Christian priests and ministers
was well known.
So Washington and Fox
looked forward to serving with him.
The final chaplain to round out
the chaplaincy staff was Clark Poling,
a Dutch Reform minister.
His father had been a chaplain
during World War I and
was now a nationally known preacher
and pastor in New York City.
Poling arrived from Mississippi
to sail as the final member
of the chaplaincy staff of the Dorchester.
In the early morning hours
of February 3, 1943,
the Dorchester was plodding cautiously
through the dark, ice-cold waters
of the North Atlantic.
Suddenly a German submarine
picked it up and locked on to it
with the crosshairs of its periscope.
Seconds later, a torpedo went speeding
toward the thin belly
of the Dorchester.
It scored a direct hit,
exploding in the engine room.
Twenty-seven minutes later,
the Dorchester was sinking.
Chaos was everywhere.
Newly trained, inexperienced troops
had to hurry to the ship’s deck
in their life jackets and essential gear.
According to reports by survivors,
one of the few scenes of order
was that of the four chaplains,
working together as a team,
doing their best to calm
the frightened young troops
and get control of the situation.
In the process they stripped off
their own life jackets and gave them
to panic-strickened troops
who could not return to get their own
and who could not swim.
Only 230 troops survived
the Dorchester disaster,
making it the third largest loss of life
at sea in World War II.
From these survivors
was pieced together the story
of the heroism of the four chaplains
ministering to the wounded
and frightened during the final minutes
as the Dorchester was rapidly sinking
beneath the waters of the North Atlantic.
The four chaplains were posthumously
awarded special Medals of Heroism
by the United States Congress.
A stamp was issued in their honor,
and the Chapel of the Four Chaplains
was dedicated by President Truman
at Temple University.
Among other things, the chapel
had a revolving altar so that services
could be conducted from it
in all three faiths.
The Chapel of the Four Chaplains
is now located at Valley Forge.
The story of the four chaplains
helps us focus on the inner meaning
of the feast we celebrate today.
It teaches us that, in many ways,
a saint is an ordinary person
who gave extraordinary witness
to their faith—
and heroic service to others.
Indeed, on that cold, dark morning,
the four chaplains were a light shining
in the darkness, and the darkness
has never been put out.
In the words
of Bishop Brooke Westcott:
Great occasions
do not make heroes or cowards;
they simply unveil them
to the eyes.
Silently and imperceptively,
as we wake or sleep,
we grow strong or we grow weak,
and at last
some crisis shows us
what we have become.