Readings: Wis 3:1-9; Rm 5:3-9; Jn 6:37-40
The “communion of saints and life everlasting” as we pray at the end of the Creed sums up best what we celebrate today, the Commemoration of all the Faithful – All Souls. By setting aside a day exclusively for those who have passed from this life, we affirm our faith in the life after and our obligation to pray for them. That faith and obligation is based on the teaching of the Church on the communion of saints: those in heaven, the Church on earth and the souls in purgatory. The image of the Body of Christ captures best the communion that links all three levels. The Church on earth commemorates all the Faithful Departed every year November 2, as an opportunity to pray for the souls in purgatory. The best way to understand purgatory is to think of your soul at the time of your Baptism. It was clean. You were in the state of grace; the best version of yourself, but daily due to sin (both venial and mortal sin ), we pick up grime that clutter our souls. We go to confession. We are forgiven; the sin is removed, but we still need to pay for the damages and so be purified of the scars in purgatory before we can get into heaven. Those in purgatory cannot pray for themselves; they need our prayers. That is why we continually offer Holy Masses for those who have died. Collectively and individually we help them by our prayers to get to heaven. Throughout this past month, many bereaved families have put in names of their loved ones in the Book of Remembrance so we can remember them in this Holy Mass. The list does not limit God’s love and mercy. The people we remember are not imaginary people, but real people from families in our parish that have been shattered by separation; families and spouses that are still grieving. We have all been through the pain of separation by death. We have all had to say goodbye to someone very dear and very close to us. It is never easy to let go of someone who is dear to us. Bereavement is a real human tragedy.
The readings offer us great consolation. In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we hear very comforting words that “the souls of the just are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them.” Contrary to the wisdom of this world, those who have died are at peace, for the Lord has purified them like gold in a furnace and taken them to Himself. In the Gospel Jesus gives us the good news that the Father wills to save everyone who believes in him. In other words, Jesus will leave no one behind. The good news is this: because of our faith and hope in Christ who died and rose, our loved ones now rest in peace with him in heaven. Today, as we pray for our loved ones and all the faithful departed, let us pray that the Lord may continually sustain our faith and hope in the resurrection of Christ. At this Holy Mass, we pray for all our faithful departed, that God may hasten their time to get to heaven. They need our prayers for they cannot pray for themselves. What is the message? 1) This annual commemoration gives the whole parish and the Church an opportunity to share in your grief and to pray for your loved ones. 2) We remember them in a special way through this Holy Mass: the highest form of prayer we can ever offer. 3) The good news is that because Jesus will leave no one behind, our faith and hope in the resurrection means that our loved ones will be with him in heaven. May our loved ones and all the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
©2014 John S. Mbinda