Today we celebrate All Souls Day. Today is also one of the occasions when we confront our own mortality. When we think of and pray for those we have known and loved who have died, we are reminded that we too are going to die. For many of us that is not a pleasant thought. Death frightens us because death is something that none of us has had any experience of. We don’t know what it is like to die. Today the Church provides us with three wonderful readings from scripture that can be very reassuring as we confront death.
The first reading from the Book of Wisdom is very often used in funeral liturgies. Those of us who have attended many funerals are, I am sure, very familiar with this reading. The reading presents a very consoling picture of the dead person safe and at peace in the embrace of Almighty God. The picture I see upon reading this passage is of God holding the dead person close. And since no torment can touch God, neither can it touch the dead person. This reading further informs us that God gives grace and mercy to the dead and takes good care of those he has chosen.
The second reading from the sixth chapter of the Letter to the Romans tells us about fellowship with Christ our savior. If we become followers of Christ in this life, then after our death we shall continue to live with him in eternal life.
The gospel reading from St. John quotes the consoling words of Jesus. Jesus tells us that it is the will of God that everyone who sees and believes in Jesus may have eternal life. He will raise them up at the last judgment to live with him forever. Jesus tells us that God the Father does not want him to lose any of us whom God entrusts to his care. As any good parent wants his children to take good care of the things the parent gives them, so God the Father wants Jesus to take good care of us and lead us to eternal life.
All of us desire to enjoy eternal life. In order to fulfill our desire for eternal life we need to pay close attention to what God asks of us in these scripture readings. We must let God try us by our trials in this life so that as gold is tested in the furnace, we may also be tested and found worthy of salvation. We need to put off our sinful ways so that we may live in newness of life after our death. And we need to recognize and follow Jesus and his teaching so that we may follow him to eternal life.
On this All Souls Day may these comforting readings from sacred scripture help us to pray diligently for all our faithful departed and also be more at peace with the thought of our own death.
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