Miracle on 34th Street! Macy’s in Philadelphia (not New York, so that’s where the cultural reference to the ’40s movie falls flat) was the scene of a RANDOM ACT OF CULTURE at noon on October 31, when members of the Philadelphia Orchestra and local choirs broke into an enthusiastic rendition of “Handel’s Messiah.” Merry Christmas– and who cares about Halloween, anyway?
This effervescent hubbub prompted me to think about antonyms: What, exactly, is the opposite of crass commercialism? Here we see a sea of shoppers– strangers to one another– transformed into a chorale and an enthusiastic audience, as the strains of “Handel’s Messiah” break into the midday bustle. But is “culture” the opposite of “commercialism”? I think not. I think the opposite of “commercialism” is “love.”
More on that as the holiday season approaches. And Merry Christmas, a little early!
As we Catholics in the United States celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints (either tomorrow or—in some dioceses—today), our pastor preached an excellent homily about the saints. The word “saint,” he noted, is found 62 times in the New Testament. With the exception of the Book of Revelation, most often the term “saint” refers, not to those who have gone before us in the sign of faith and who rest in the arms of Jesus, but to those frail but well-intentioned people who accompany us on our journey through this life.
I know what he means.
At our parish, perhaps more than at any church we’ve attended, I am keenly aware of the humble holiness of the people around me. This morning I took a moment to look around at the faces of the saints: the man who, having lost his wife just a few years ago, brings his burden to the Lord and there finds peace and consolation; the elderly woman who greets those around her with enthusiastic hugs and kisses; the teacher whose lifework is deeply intertwined with the will of Christ, as she touches the lives of children and their parents; the self-conscious young altar server who recognizes that his role is an important one, and who strives to stand in the right place and ring the bells with gusto and precision timing. These are the everyday saints who inspire me by their very lives.
When people look at me, do they see someone who, along with them, is en route to an eternity with Jesus, while practicing saintly virtues in the here and now? My prayer today is that we—both I, and you the reader—will continue to more closely mirror God in our daily lives, an inspiration to all we meet.
Make it a great day!