San Francisco, Calif., Nov 13, 2018 / 03:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Eight days after the feast of All Saints, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco said a Mass of the Dead for the homeless of the city, emphasizing the importance of remembering and praying for the deceased homeless.
“One of the greatest acts of charity we can perform is to pray for the eternal salvation of those who have gone before. That is what we are doing,” said Martin Ford, social action coordinator of the Archdiocese of San Francisco’s Office of Human Life and Dignity.
The Nov. 8 Mass was said at St. Patrick’s parish in San Francisco. The collection taken during Mass was used to support the homeless ministry of Catholic Charities San Francisco.
According to the San Francisco Homeless Count and Survey 2017, there are more than 2,100 chronically homeless in this city. It is difficult to track the exact numbers of homeless deaths in the city, but the survey said mortality rates is four to nine times higher for those who are continuously homeless.
In his homily, Archbishop Cordileone connected the coming of winter and the passing of life. He spoke on the Second Letter of St. Paul to the Corinthians, noting its theme on the briefness of life and the journey to eternal life.
“There is a sense of things coming to an end and a passing into silence – the silence of winter – which reminds me of the silence of death. It’s a reminder to us of the end of life and how fleeting our life is in this world,” he said.
“This is what St. Paul is speaking about in this passage from his second letter to the Corinthians when he is comparing the body to a tent… This is a disturbingly accurate description of those who die in the streets; most of them don’t even have a literal tent.”
He recalled the nomadic lifestyle of the Israelites following the exodus. He said that similarly, the people of God are on a journey, which should be lived with charity.
“As long as we are in this world we are a people along a pilgrimage – a movement towards a goal that is eternity, our only true home. And, therefore, we must always keep our vision fixed on that ultimate destination that God created us for,” he said.
“How do we do that? [St. Paul] says, ‘for we must always appear before the judgement seat of Christ so that each one may receive recompense according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.’”
Archbishop Cordileone discussed Matthew 25’s portrayal of the last judgement, saying, “This is where the corporal works of mercy come from, and it is certainly a reminder of our call to put these works of mercy into concrete action.”
The homeless also conduct works of mercy, he said, noting that if those with little may give charitably, then Christians who have more resources will be judged accordingly.
“We can think about how concrete acts of love and mercy are shown by our homeless brothers and sisters. They who have so much less than we have show mercy too. So we with so much more, how much more will we be held to a higher standard, when it comes to rendering an account to God for our lives in this world.”
He expressed hope that the Mass would assist the homeless “on their way to the eternal hope that is God’s kingdom of heaven” and would inspire the congregation to perform more acts of mercy.
“May this work of mercy please our Lord and may it inspire us to glorify God in our bodies through concrete acts of love and mercy, so that when it is our turn to make the passage of this life to the next and face our own final judgement, the great King of all the ages will give us a place with the sheep at his right hand.”