This homily by Fr. Matthew Howell was given at St. Herman Church on the first Sunday after Pentecost on which the Church commemorates all the saints who have loved God since the beginning of the world. Fr. Matthew talks about the idea of “thin places”, prevalent in the culture of ancient Celtic Christians. “Thin places” are places in which heaven and earth meet. When Fr. Matthew says that we need to become “thin people,” he does not mean that our physical size is essential to our salvation, but that we must make our hearts, minds, and entire beings “thin places” in which heaven and earth meet. He says that St. Paul gives us the prescription to become spiritually “thin people”: “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely” (Hebrews 12:1). When we hold onto our passions, our heart becomes crushed under this weight of sin, and the distance between us and God increases.
Hebrews 11:33-40; 12:1-2
Brethren, all the saints through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and scourging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were killed with the sword; they went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, ill-treated – of whom the world was not worthy – wandering over deserts and mountains and in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect. Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Matthew 10:32-33; 37-38; 19:27-30
The Lord said to his disciples, “Every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny him before my Father who is in heaven. He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Then Peter said in reply, “Lo, we have left everything and followed you. What then shall we have?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of man shall sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many that are first will be last, and the last first.”