One Bread, One Body

For 1 November 2023, Solemnity of All Saints, based on Revelation 7:9–12, Matthew 5:3–12a

(Image by 9497625 from Pixabay)

Revelation 7:9–12

I had a vision of a great multitude,
which no one could count,
from every nation, race, people, and tongue.
They stood before the throne and before the Lamb,
wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation comes from our God, who is seated on the throne,
and from the Lamb.”

All the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures.
They prostrated themselves before the throne,
worshiped God, and exclaimed:

“Amen. Blessing and glory, wisdom and thanksgiving,
honor, power, and might
be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

On October 1, the first day of a three-day opening retreat preached by emeritus master of the Dominican Order Timothy Radcliffe to the four hundred and some delegates and representatives gathered for the Synod on Synodality in Rome, Timothy preached a meditation titled “At Home in God and God at Home in Us” in which he used a compelling image about baking bread.

He said: “When Thomas Merton became a Catholic he discovered ‘God, that centre Who is everywhere, and whose circumference is nowhere, finding me.’ Renewing the Church, then, is like making bread. One gathers edges of the dough into the centre, and spreads the centre into the margins, filling it all with oxygen. One makes the loaf by overthrowing the distinction between edges and the centre, making God’s loaf, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere, finding us.”

Pope Francis has repeatedly invited us to “go to the peripheries.” The amazing thing is that whenever we arrive there, we find that we are not at the periphery at all, but instead, at the very center of other people’s lives. As Timothy said, “One makes the loaf by overthrowing the distinction between edges and the centre, making God’s loaf, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere, finding us.”

When it comes to making one bread, one body, the Saints are our exemplars. They go to the center of other people’s lives at the peripheries, and they invite us to go with them. From the center of our little worlds out to other people and other places and other worlds of suffering and hope. The Saints point us beyond ourselves to our common home—one bread, one sanctified body in Christ. Following the example of the Saints, we become beatified at the peripheries.

Matthew 5:3–12a

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.
Beatified are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Holy are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Happy are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.

Sanctified are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Glad are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Holy are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Hallowed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great with the Saints in heaven.

Scripture passage from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright 1989, 1993, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

About Gregory Heille, O.P.

Gregory Heille, O.P., serves as Professor of Preaching and Evangelization and director of the Doctor of Ministry in Preaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. He is a friar of the Province of St. Albert the Great USA and has a particular interest in racial equity education.