Today is the solemnity of All Souls. In other words, we pray at Mass and throughout the day for the souls of all the faithfully departed, those who have passed away. This day always follows the solemnity of All Saints. I decided to send you the homily from yesterday’s Mass. I didn’t send it yesterday because, like a good poker player, you never want to show your hand too early. Hope you enjoy it:
I’ve seen on campus an increase in the number of WWJD wristbands. Even though they have been around for a long time, they have made a significant comeback and more and more of you are wearing it. “What would Jesus do?” What a great question. Definitely one that should clearly define the life of a Christian man.
I confess, though, I have a slight concern. Sometimes sporting items of great significance can be reduced to mere trinkets or, in this case, jewelry. Wearing something simply because it looks good or is cool may not be the best reason. You run the risk of reducing an important item to a simple fashion statement when it was never meant to be that. What you wear or simply choose to use is supposed to say a lot about the person.
For example, driving around Miami I always see people in their cars with a rosary hanging from their rearview mirror. That’s beautiful. I love it. But I wonder how often the driver actually prays it. Is the rosary hanging there for easy access so you don’t have to dig it out of your pocket while driving? Does the beady contraption swing back and forth as you turn the car as a reminder to take it down and pray? The car is actually a great place for the rosary to be prayed. Turning off your satellite radio or removing the AirPods from your ears and praying the rosary as you drive is a great way to give God and the Blessed Mother some quality time.
If it’s not that and the rosary is simply there because it was a gift from your grandmother when you first bought your car and she insisted I hang it right above the dashboard, then you run the risk of reducing the rosary to a good luck charm. That chain of fifty Hail Marys and five Our Fathers becomes more of a talisman to shoo away the bad traffic juju or avoid serious accidents. That would be doing the very unique and particularly Catholic prayer a tremendous disservice.
The same goes for the WWJD wristband. Wearing it has to mean more than simply sporting a cool bracelet. Because other people see it on you, it has to stand for something you take seriously. And, because you see it, it has to be a constant reminder that you have to ask yourself the question: “In this particular situation, faced with this particular challenge… what would Jesus do?”. I know the answer is not always easy, but I assure you it is always right.
Today we celebrate the feast of All Saints. Every single saint, from every single generation, is recognized and honored today. These are men, women, and children who lived lives so holy that they are canonized by the Church and venerated by Catholics all over the world. What made them holy and their lives so heroic is the simple fact that they always asked themselves exactly that question: “what would Jesus do?” And, when they got the answer, they did it. No matter what the consequence, no matter how unpopular, no matter how difficult, they did it.
When St. Mother Teresa saw a leper dying on the streets of Calcutta, she asked the question, “what would Jesus do,” then went on to spend the rest of her life taking care of them. When St. Francis Xavier heard that St. Ignatius needed a missionary to go to India, he also asked the question, “what would Jesus do,” then went on to baptize hundreds of thousands of people. When St. Peter Claver saw that tens of thousands of Africans were being enslaved and sent to the New World to be bought and sold, he too asked the question, “what would Jesus do,” then went to Cartagena, Colombia to serve them and preach against the injustices of slavery.
I can go on and on because there are thousands of them and every single one asked themselves that question and had the courage to do what Jesus did. Easy… absolutely not. Popular… no way. But, at the end of the day, they understood that no individual in the history of mankind had the absolute perfect answer to what anyone should do if not Jesus Christ. And this is what made them saints. This is why we celebrate All Saints Day. It is the Church’s way of recognizing that the imitation of Jesus is possible. We have evidence that there are thousands upon thousands of people who made it their life’s purpose.
Here’s the best part. Every single one of us, without exception, is called to be a saint. It is our very purpose. We would be doing the saints a tremendous disservice if we simply saw them as these heroic figures that are only to be admired and not imitated. No sir. If you have been created by God, you have been created for the purpose of being a saint. You have been called by God to live your life in its particular context and circumstance asking yourself all the time the very real and important question “what would Jesus do” and doing it.
I encourage you, my brothers, to wear your wristbands. Choose whatever color you want. Wear it on your left or right wrist. But, wear it knowing it comes with the responsibility of asking the question seriously and honestly. Make it count and don’t reduce it to a simple charm of luck or a cool looking accessory. What would Jesus do is simply the most important question any young man can ask himself and the key to living out your vocation towards being a saint.