Memorial of Saint Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs
(Revelation 14:1-3.4b-5; Psalm 24; Luke 21:1-4)
A railroad company once put out a notice that it would be hiring. When many men came to apply, all were told to take a seat and the job recipient would be announced. After a while they heard a tapping noise at which one of the men arose to claim the job. When the others protested that the job recipient was not announced as promised, the employer said that it most certainly was. He explained that the tapping was Morse code announcing that the person able to decipher the message would be the one hired. Something similar takes place in the first reading from the Book of Revelation which speaks of a strange-sounding hymn.
The new hymn which only the one hundred and forty-four thousand elect can sing refers to the life of grace that most people choose not to follow. Adherents to this way of life follow the Lamb, who is Christ, wherever he goes, even to death. They are unblemished because they refuse to tell a lie or to succumb to other vices. They live for God alone.
Do we belong to the army of the elect? We need not worry that inscription is limited to one hundred and forty-four thousand people in all history. That figure is metaphorical standing for people of every race and land. But we must concern ourselves with striving for perfection. We are to refrain from sin and, at least as important, to do what is good. It is a lifestyle which resists the temptation to personal comfort that has become a kind of social addiction. Quite the contrary, the lifestyle of the elect goes out of its way to assist the needy.