|Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
Psalm 23:1-3a, 3b-4, 5, 6
Romans 8:31b-35, 37-39
That’s what it said on the big package of chocolate I found one Saturday morning in the cabinet above my mother’s oven. It looked like an overgrown chocolate bar and I was in a feeding mood so I decided to give it a try. It was bitter. It was also sweet. Later when my mother returned home from work to discover that I had consumed the entire bar of her baking chocolate the experience continued to be
Today’s feast can be characterized as bittersweet. As Christians we know that those who have gone before us are joined in the communion of saints. Yet I dearly miss my parents and grandparents, my nephew and my aunts and uncles, and Jesuit friends such as Robert and Peter and Rick and Gary and Bill and Denny and my school friends such as Bill and Dennis and my reservation friends and Hunka (adopted family) such as Sarah and Lillian and Nancy and Max and Philip and Dave and Noah.
Here on the Rosebud reservation where I’m currently on sabbatical the Lakota have a beautiful ritual called the “wiping of tears.” Mourners are publicly recognized as such, are given tobacco to smoke and sweetened water to drink and elders speak to them to console and encourage. The ceremony is also used to bring people out of mourning, a time when communal participation is curtailed, so that they may resume public activity.
Today’s readings tell us that a time will come when all tears will be wiped away. Today’s readings tell us that nothing can separate us from God. Today’s readings tell us that Jesus is our source of consolation.
A yoke can be for a single animal or for a team. When a yoke is shared the burden is lessened. When Jesus tells us about “my yoke” He is telling us not that He owns it but that He is also carrying it with us.
Today we recall and honor those who have gone before us marked by the sign of faith. We also remember that our burdens are carried not only from below, from under the yoke, but from above also for there is a continuity among living and dead and those who have died continue to be with us and assist us in many ways, saints, angels and the ordinary people who have come through our lives who are the true saints. Some of our memories may be bitter and sad and heavy. But with the consolation of Christ, the Christian community, and the departed themselves may they also be
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