Fill Your Imagination With God
User's Guide to Sunday, Nov. 1
Sunday, Nov. 1, is All Saints’ Day (Year B).
Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; Psalm 24:1-6; 1 John 3:1-3; Matthew 5:1-12
Today’s readings show us what distinguish the saints: imagination and habit.
“We are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed,” writes St. John. “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure, as he is pure.”
We see the glory to come, so we do the deeds of today. Imagination fuels habit, and habit fuels imagination.
The beatitudes, in today’s Gospel, say precisely the same thing: To be happy, purify your imagination and choose based on it.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” Purify your imagination, and keep heavenly riches in your heart.
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Acknowledge the value of those who are missing from your life, and you will find hope for their souls.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” If you don’t imagine yourself too important, then you will enjoy the whole earth as it is.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.” Those who imagine and fight for a better world are happier.
“Blessed are the merciful,” and “blessed are the peacemakers” — their imagination allows them to see the good in others, even when they are “persecuted for the sake of righteousness.”
And above all, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.” Purity of heart means seeing the true worth of others. Blessed are those whose imaginations can see the best in others; they are learning to recognize God.
Our task as Christians is to fill our imaginations with God, so that we will seek him.
Christianity doesn’t give glory to those who follow rules; it gives the ability to follow rules to those who can see the glory of God.
An important corollary to all of this is that if we fill our imaginations with the wrong things, we will go down the wrong roads. Superficial entertainment can fill us with superficiality, longing for the material goods we see on TV. Obsession about work makes us careerists. Pornography use changes our attitudes toward intimacy, toward the opposite sex and even toward the definition of marriage.
Our imagination has to be fired by truth or it gets us into trouble.
The way to do that is to seek God out in the Scriptures, in the sacraments and in the saints.
Seeing their lives, in which God is fully alive, allows us to imagine that we can do the same thing in terms of holiness.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas,
where he lives with April, his wife and in-house theologian and consultant, and their children.