Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Commemoration of All Souls                              November 2, 2014
Wisdom 3:1-9             Psalm 23           Romans 6:3-9           John 6:37-43

This special day, the day that we commemorate all the faithful departed, is filled with a sense of remembrance and longing.  Today, on this special day we remember our beloved deceased.  Their names and faces are close to our hearts, etched in our memories, and lifted up in the Mass intentions of the church.

These souls have experienced the last things of life on earth – death, and judgment.  These are the ones who have entered into the deepest of mysteries – what happens to us when we die.  Let’s think about that for a moment.

We as Christians do not believe that we are merely a body - that once we stop living we simply cease to exist.  There is more to our human nature than biology.  We believe that we are an incarnation – soul and flesh created together from the moment of our conception.  Body and soul grow together and makes us who we are.

The idea of birth gives us some idea of what death might be like.  When we are conceived and grow in our mother’s womb, as small babies we are warm, fed, loved, and safe.  And I suppose that the   But as ask an expectant mother in her 9th month if she would permit that.  Birth is necessary.  So it is that the rather traumatic process of leaving the womb of the mother takes place.  What happens after being born is amazing.  The new little one is placed in the arms of the mother and they see each other’s face for the very first time.  Life in the world outside of the womb is far richer and interesting in the womb.  Who of us would want to go back?  It is here in this life that we can grow, develop, experience so many things, and fulfill all of the potentialities within us from the moment of our conception.
baby would probably choose to stay there forever.

Death is something like being born.  Dying seems rather traumatic.  None of us wants to face the eventual death of the body and the parting of the soul from the body.  But that very essential part of our selves, the soul, what makes us truly who we are, separates from the body at death.  The first reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us of what happens on that day of being born into eternity when it says “the souls of the just are in the hand of God.”

Today, on this special day, we contemplate the soul’s journey to see the face of God.  For each of us the day of death, of being born into eternity, awaits us.  For each of us, the day of judgment, of standing before God and presenting all of our life to him, is coming.

For each of us, we must all admit that we are not yet perfected in love.  We have not yet completed God’s call to holiness.  So many who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith, experience a final healing, a final atonement, a final perfecting in the fires of God’s love.  This is the soul’s journey to God.  It is something of a mystery to us, but the Book of Wisdom speaks of this with these words, “their hope is full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed.”

As we hope for heaven, we remember that the saints in heaven pray for us, assisting us on our journey to God.  Likewise, the church on earth prays for all those who are being born again into eternal life with God.  We lift up our prayers for our beloved deceased who are being purified, helping those souls on their journey to God.

This special blessing of purgatory is a great manifestation of the love and mercy of God.  For God purifies our souls until we are perfected in his love.  God does whatever it takes to help us become his saints – so that we can shine like the stars. 

This feast day is a remembrance of great hope.  Jesus gives us the assurance of his desire for us.  He suffered, died, and was raised from the dead so that we could inherit this promise.  Listen to his words.  “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.”

What an amazing promise.  Jesus will not lose anyone whom the Father has given to him.  And surely we have been given to our Lord in the great sacrament of baptism.  We have been nourished by our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.  We have been washed clean once again by the great sacrament of mercy, the sacrament of penance. 

Today, on this special day, 
we commit our own souls to God once again.

Today, on this special day, 
we commemorate all the faithful departed.

Today, on this special day, 
filled with remembrance and longing, 
we entrust everything to Jesus our good Shepherd, 
who leads us to everlasting life.

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