November 25th, 2006
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“So they went up to heaven in a cloud as their enemies
It’s November, what we used to call in grade school the
month of the Poor Souls. I remember the purple bulletin boards with
small tongues of fire that represented Purgatory. We filled Purgatory
with the names or pictures of the people we were praying for. It
was all so concrete and specific, unlike today’s readings
from Revelation and Luke.
I find both passages simultaneously difficult to understand and
comforting. Both tell us that we will live eternally with God even
if that life is clouded in mystery as the passage from Revelations
suggests and that it will be different from our current life as
Jesus tells us. “Those who are deemed worthy to attain to
the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead neither marry
nor are given in marriage. They can no longer die, for they are
However different this new life will be, Jesus says that the God
of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is “not the God of the dead, but
of the living, for to him all are alive.”
During November, especially, I like to think of my dead relatives
and friends enjoying their new lives. The child in me fantasizes
about what eternal life is like.
Do the people in heaven laugh and sing? Are they having fun? Is
my beloved uncle who lived in enormous pain finally free from all
suffering? Is my dear friend who died at 40 of cancer still guiding
her children in some fashion?
Of course these questions have no answers. Only God knows what awaits
us after death. But far from leading us to fear death, today’s
readings should help us to celebrate God’s great gifts of
life – both now and eternally.
to the writer of this reflection.
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