By Julie Lazanich
This past week, many of us donned witch hats, cat ears, or some other type of costume to celebrate Halloween. Yet, the Catholics out there got to celebrate more than one holiday. Halloween was just the kick-off. November 1st marked All Saints Day, which celebrates the Communion of Saints who are already in Heaven by God’s grace and through their own good works. This day reminds of us how we are supposed to live. Then on All Souls Day, the faithfully departed are commemorated as we ask for God’s mercy on those in purgatory who are awaiting the gates of Heaven.
And these holidays weren’t even counting the World Series. Talk about a week.
Back in primary school when I was home-schooled, my family would get together with other home-schoolers and dress up as different saints and angels on All Saints Day. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was my personal go-to.
While I don’t dress up anymore, I paused to think about what these days really mean to me.
I thought of all of the people I have loved and lost. I thought of the people that I am so grateful to have in my life. And, as morbid as it may sound
I was imagining what my life would be like without them.
Our world often stigmatizes death. I’m not saying it should be easy to talk about, but sometimes I feel I am being bombarded by little phrases like “you only live once” or “life is too short to be anything but happy.” I feel pressure to take advantage of all of the opportunities presented to me, to put it all out there, o leave my mark on the world.
Yet in the Gospel, I find solace in Jesus’ perspective.
Essentially the Mean Girls circa 2000 years ago were the Sadducees. This elitist group was questioning Jesus about the resurrection and marriage, two topics they already had strongly formulated opinions about. That the resurrection did not exist, and that a wife was to marry for two reasons: to ensure that her husband’s namesake continued on through bearing children and that she would be protected by belonging to a household, even if her husband passed away.
Jesus slams these "mean girls," saying that if everyone is a child of God, then there are no lineage issues. And because everyone belongs to the household of God, marriage need not ensure that.
Yet, some days, despite my faith in God, that does not seem like enough. I still wonder, to what and to whom do I belong to?
Naturally my family, social circles and parish. And now that I am out of school, it is not so much clubs and teams, but work and employers, my country, my debt, and my possessions. All of these seemingly build my identity, but to what end, and to what risks, like idolatry?
I know I can’t take any of these identity builders with me. It’s just going to me. And with all that stripped away, what is left of me? Will I be worthy?
But God is shouting yes.
Not because of my legacy, but because of the grace of God that allows me to be seen as a child of God. I am worthy because Jesus died and resurrected for me, for all of us.
So instead of following some cliché phrase that tells me to live life to the fullest, I can accept that I am already living proof of God’s life-giving message. According to Luke, I am like an angel, a messenger of God’s good news.
So even though this holiday week comes to a close, may we be reminded of all the reasons we celebrate them.
And may we be challenged to emulate the saints, who were just ordinary persons, made complete by becoming the fully alive persons that God created him or her to be.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie is a recent grad of John Carroll University and has just started a research position at Jones Day law firm downtown. Aside from working 9-5, she spends her time with those that make her laugh most, especially her almost one year old, Carter James. Julie enjoys making sure others know how much they're loved and is always trying to spread God's gift of joy around. This may often include wine, sunshine, tacos, hot dogs, and replays of Lebron's legendary Game 7 block.