Today I look forward to our annual tradition of a bonfire in our driveway, hot apple cider, donuts and candy. The music – some of it spooky, some of it fun – will be playing for the neighbors to hear. A little fog machine will add to the atmosphere as brave little trick-or-treaters and their parents stop by.
It’s Halloween! The night before All Saints Day (Holy Day Alert!); followed closely by All Souls Day.
As I sat down to prepare this reflection of our readings today, I wondered if there would be some message, some lines – a turn of a phrase perhaps? – that would let me write about the importance of keeping to the traditions of Halloween.
Fortunately for me, Luke did not disappoint.
“On a Sabbath Jesus went to dine at the home of one of the leading Pharisees. He said to the host who invited him, “When you hold a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or sisters or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment.
“Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Indeed … on this night, we invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind – the ghosts and goblins; lions, tigers and bears; monsters, vampires and superheroes – anyone who comes to our home in search of a little nourishment (ok, candy) and fellowship.
This may not seem to be on-point with the message of Christ today. But bear with me …
After all, this night of tricks and treats and costumes is merely the beginning of three days of solemn remembrance of those who have come and gone before us. That includes the saints, who we know lived exemplary lives to which we should aspire to imitate.
Certainly that would include a strong sense of hospitality; A true open door policy.
Then there are the souls, our dearly departed; the names we sign into our parish books of remembrance. Our moms and dads, our grandmothers and grandfathers. Possibly a great grandmother we vaguely remember as a child.
In most cases, we remember these dearly departed souls because they showed us love and hospitality. Another example of lives worth living.
They may not be official saints of the Church, but in many cases, they lived like saints in our eyes. And we can only hope to do the same as we carry on.
Jesus tells us that our open doors should be for all and not just those who we hope will “pay us back” with a return invitation. In other words, this role we play as hosts is never about us and what we will receive. On the contrary, it is always about them, whoever “them” may be.
Everything … is all about them.
Tonight, it’s candy for them.
Tomorrow, it’s a Holy Day of obligation for them.
The next day, it’s lighting a candle, pondering a photo, saying a prayer … for them.
How is that for a Halloween lesson?
Life is not about us.
It’s about them.