Theology of Halloween 

10.31.18 Wed. wk. 30 – O. T. – (II)

St. Paul’s Letter to Ephesians  6: 1 – 9

Luke13:  22 – 30

†Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem.  Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.  After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will say to you in reply, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  And you will say, ‘We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.’  Then he will say to you, ‘I do not know where [you] are from. Depart from me, all you evildoers!’  And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves cast out.  And people will come from the east and the west and from the north and the south and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.  For behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                                  Theology of Halloween

It’s Halloween. (speaking to the students) How many of you will be dressing up tonight?  What are you going to go as?  What are you dressing up as?   A skeleton?  A bag of jelly beans.  You’re my favorite – already!   ‘Scream’ from a “scary movie”.   A unicorn – that’s nice.    So all of you are going to be dressing up.

Now when you dress up – is that who you really are?   No.  You are just putting on a costume; you are putting on a mask and pretending.  That’s what Halloween is all about.  It’s pretending!  But we can’t separate Halloween from what is tomorrow – for as you know – the traditional name for Halloween is: “All Hallows Eve.”  Tomorrow is “All Saints Day” and in ‘Traditional Old English’ it used to be called ‘All Hallows Day’.  These two days go together.

You may have heard there is a movement going on to move the celebration of Halloween from October 31 to the last Saturday in October.  This, I think, would be a shame, because these two days go together for a reason.   They were put together – to teach theology.  Back when most people couldn’t read (because they were illiterate) people were able to learn an important truth about Salvation History – about ‘All Hallows Day’ and about ‘Our Call’ by God.

On ‘All Hallows Eve’ or ‘Halloween’ – we dress up as something we are not.  It represents that oftentimes – we live our lives out of our false self.  We don’t live the truth of who †Jesus has called us to be (and that is represented by the masks and the costumes we wear on Halloween).  Sometimes – we try to impress other people – we want to put our best foot forward; but – we are called to take off our masks and put the costumes away because we have been called to something more.  We have been called to be saints – called to be holy.  And so – these two days truly represent the movement of Salvation History.

In the early days of ‘All Hallows Eve’, people used to dress up as demons – as devils – as a way to show that at one time the devil had control of humanity.  From the fall of Adam until the time of †Jesus – Satan was in charge.  Then – with the coming of †Jesus – that all changed – and Satan is on his way out the door.  †Jesus has brought Salvation, called us to holiness, and made holiness possible for us.  Do you see how these two days are meant to go together?   So they not only teach Salvation History – they teach us about the Spiritual Life.  We are to move from our false self to – our true self; and who is my true self?

Thomas Merton put it this way – the true self’ is: “I am one who is loved by Christ.  I am truly `loved by Christ”!  And that should change everything about me.  I don’t need to wear masks in society – I don’t need live out of my false self – because – since †Jesus loves me – I can be true to who I truly am – I can be the saint that I am called to be.

Now – in today’s Gospel reading – †Jesus makes a disturbing statement.  He says: “The door will be closed for some people.  They will knock on the door and He will say: “I don’t know where you are from.”  They will say: “Well, we ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets.”  And He will say: “I don’t know where you are from”.

Jeremiah writes in his prophecy: “Before you were formed in the womb, I called you by name.”  When the Lord created us – He called us to be holy – to be something special.  And if we spend our lives living out of our false self  – when the time comes for us to get to the gates of heaven – they will to say to us: “I don’t recognize you”.  You will reply with: “I was in Church all the time”.    And he will say: “I don’t recognize you”.  Why?  Because we have lived our life out of our false self.

When Peter was asked in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Aren’t you one of †Jesus’ disciples”?  What did Peter say?  “I don’t know the man”.  Peter was speaking the truth – it wasn’t that he was afraid he was going to get arrested – but the †Jesus he saw being abused and spit upon – was not the †Jesus Peter knew.  Peter imagined †Jesus as this great King; this great king that was going to bring them all great power and glory.  But now He is arrested in the Garden and beaten.  You see – Peter had this false image of †Jesus.  (Fr. Mike brings our attention to the image of †Jesus up there – on the crucifix hanging on the wall behind the altar).  That’s the image of the true †Jesus – and He came to give His life for us.

So – He calls us to live out of our true self and we do that by self gift and surrender.  To give ourselves to others out of love – that’s our true self.  If we continue to live behind masks and false costumes and try to impress other people – we are going to hear (when we get to heaven’s gates) “I do not know who you are”  †Jesus said that right here in the Scriptures.  We need to live out of our true self because – I am one who is loved by Christ!

So as you look at these two days (Oct. 31 and Nov. 1) let us really embrace our spiritual journey and change where we need to change.  To go from the false self (of wearing the mask and the costumes) to becoming who we are called to be.

We are called to be saints – which we will celebrate tomorrow.  And the way we live a life of sanctity is expressed in the Gospel tomorrow – which is the ‘Beatitudes’.  These are the attitudes of †Jesus – the attitudes of surrender.  “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are the humble”.  That’s the way we become saints.  That’s the way we become holy as God is Holy.

The Gospel of the Lord.