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Why Do We Praise God?

Homily for Thursday of the 34th Week in Ordinary Time

Sandwiched between two rather dire readings, our responsorial psalm is the very familiar Psalm 100. The text of the ever popular hymn, “All people that on Earth Do Dwell,” also known as “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow,” is taken from this psalm. In his popular book on the psalms, Bernhard Anderson categorizes this psalm as a hymn.

In chapter five of his book, Anderson writes: “Israel’s praise of God was evoked in the first instance not by a general religious awareness of God’s wisdom and power manifest in the broad expanse of creation and the history of (hu)mankind but, rather, by the experience of God’s active presence and power in the life-situation of Israel, God’s people.” God had created a people out of “a band of slaves, victims of the Egyptian Pharaoh who was the mightiest emperor of that day.” Because God had defeated Pharaoh, God was, by definition, more powerful than the mightiest human being.

The framers of the lectionary could not have chosen a better psalm to use in response to our readings today. Rome, or Babylon as it is called in the Book of Revelation, was the largest and most powerful empire of that day. Yet the blood of the martyrs eventually defeated that empire whose destruction is described in the strongest terms. The Gospel also speaks of God’s victory when it describes “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory.”

Today we celebrate our Franciscan “All Saints Day.” On this day we remember the many men and women of our Seraphic Order who have been victorious over the powers of every age. Their triumph is ours as we join with them in praising God for the many blessings these men and women have been in the life of our Order - martyrs, virgins, pastors, and married men and women – each of them called to follow in the footsteps of the crucified Savior after the example of Francis and Clare of Assisi. Happy Feastday to us all. Praise God, the source of all blessings.

Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator

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