Homily for the Commemoration of All Souls (1)




Homily for the Commemoration of All Souls

Theme: SHARING IN JESUS SUFFERING, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION

By: Rev Fr Utazi Prince Marie Benignus

 

Homily for Tuesday November 2 2021

Wisdom 3:1-9 or Isaiah 25:6-9; Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6; Roman 5:5-11 or Romans 6:3-4,8-9; John 6:37-40

Note: The readings for todays celebration of All Souls are not reserved to the list above but can be taken from any of the readings for the Masses for the Dead.Those who died in the Lord God are truly in the hands of God. Todays readings remind us that God wants the best for us and will provide. The passage from Wisdom was written about a century before the birth of Jesus, during a time when some of the Jews were developing the concepts of life after death. It is part of the Catholic listing of books of Old Testament. It belongs to the Deutero-Canonical books. It speaks about the hope for those who have died and their being in the hands of God. These people must be people who died in righteousness, those who seek the truth and also seek the Loed with their whole heart.

Isaiah strengthens the faith of the Chosen People who are struggling from oppression and war. He reassures these group of Gods chosen people, which you and I are among, that God will eventually provide for us in such a way that there will be no more mourning or sorrow. God will come to the people and save them from their persecutors more than we can ever imagine. Isaiah speaks of a time when every tear will be wiped away.

Psalm 23 proclaims Gods protection and providence. This psalm brings comfort not only to the people at the time of psalmist, but also for the people of our time. God is pictured as a loving Shepherd who leads the wayward flock to safety. God will win a victory for the Chosen People and provide a victory feast which surpasses any before it. The cup of joy and happiness will be overflowing. Only the best will be given to those who have followed the lead of the Divine Shepherd, Jesus Christ. And that best is the eternal life that is full of joy and happiness.

St. Paul tells the believers in Rome that God has always loved us, even when we sin. And through baptism, we all share in both the death and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In Romans 5, St. Paul reminds us that if God has gone so far as to send Jesus down to earth, to live as a human, to teach, suffer, and die for us, while we are still sinners, then God is showing how much we are loved and how much God wants us to be in heaven with the Lord Jesus. This message is repeated in the Gospel of John 6: 37-40. Remember that a sinner is an enemy of God.

The sixth chapter of St. Pauls Letter to the Romans has comforting words to those who are going through rough times. Paul emphasizes very strongly that if we are truly plunged (baptized) into Christ, we share in His sufferings and death. Therefore, it shows that Death is part of our existence as mortals. The Good News is that if, we have been willing to share in Jesus suffering and death, then we will also share in His resurrection.
In the Gospel, Jesus promises to raise up all those who believe in Him. He proclaims that He has come to do the will of His Father. Part of the will of God includes, raising up all who believe in Him and share in His life, death, and resurrection.

Today is the celebration of All Souls (All the Faithful Departed). Today we show our union with those who have died and are making the transition to the fullness of Gods presence. Our prayers and love are part of what unites us with our loved ones on the final steps of their journey to the home of our Lord Jesus and His Father. Also it is important for us to realize that after death, the time-space constraints we experience on earth are gone. What seems like a thousand years to us on earth is only a brief moment for those who are no longer bound by time-space barriers but are beginning to live eternally.

It is true that there have been times when some of us have sensed the presence of our departed mothers and fathers and other relatves. It is not a negative feeling at all, but rather a warm, positive feeling. Some of them (if not many) are with the Lord Jesus and also near us. We are still united in the communion of saints Gods holy ones on both sides of the event we call death. And the bond of our union is love, the love of God, love which is God in the fullness of divinity.

Thus, Death is a transition from earthly life to eternal life. Part of the that transition is a realization of what our life has been, and recognition of the times when we have not always matched up to the plan of God. In death and through death, Gods love purifies us so that we can enjoy the fullness of the eternal life which Jesus has gained for us through His death and resurrection. Actually, death can be scary, particularly as we realize our own imperfections. Yet, the belief we have as imperfect but striving to be faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus, is that Jesus obedience to the will of His Father has raised us up and opened to us the fullness of eternal life. For those who have refused to acknowledge the life which Jesus offered to them, death is not a joyful transition to eternal life, but a sorrowful movement to eternal separation from the God whom they have chosen not to accept or with whom they have wanted no relationship.

Dear Sisters and Brother in Christ Jesus, for those who are united in the love of God, there is a connection between those still on earth and those who are transitioning or who have transitioned to the eternal life in heaven. The bond which unites the faithful on both sides of the event known as death is the Love which or Whom we know as God. Since Jesus, the God-made-man, has lived on both sides of death and has gone through the death-experience, He is able to unite people on both sides of death. His resurrection is the way through which He intends us all to travel so that we can know, not just mentally, but experientially, the risen life that He shares with His Father.

Death is a subject that we often prefer not to speak too much about or reflect on too much. Inevitably we fear death and as the years pass the inevitability and the proximity of death becomes ever more present in each of our lives. Our culture often tries to sanitize death, to keep it as far as possible from the public view, to ensure that as far as possible we remove or cover up the sense of bodily decay which is part of death.

In our Christian reflection there are times when we have fallen into a similar trap. Despite our hope of resurrection, death remains for the Christian painful and mysterious. It involves a passage to new life, but once again we have no real understanding of what the real after-life will look like. The life that opens to us after this life is new life, it is not in any way a replica of this life, but something completely transformed. We have nothing in this life with which we can compare or imagine what after like will be like.

What we can say is that with death life is transformed but it is still my personal life. What is transformed remains the person that I am, but imaginative by my body-liness as experienced in this life and freed from the traps of sin which have accompanied and burdened me along the path of my life.

Death and resurrection belong to the very essence of Christian belief. The Christian teaching about new life is not about the mechanics of what we will be like or what sort of place heaven might be, but rather of a relationship. The Christian teaching about new life is about a relationship of intimacy with Christ in which I achieve in Christ also the fullness of who I am and of what is truly good in me.

There is a true discontinuity between this life and the life after death, but there is also continuity. If eternal life is a relationship with the Lord who died for us, descended into the realm of hell and death and then rose for us freeing us from the bonds of sinfulness, then the way in which we must live in this life, that is, the true meaning of human life, is also to be found in our ability and our willingness to answer the call of Jesus to fellowship with him and to follow him on the path of his self-giving love. Saint Paul reminds us that life for us is Christ and that we can experience his glory within us in life or in death. We prepare our relationship with Christ for all eternity by the way we live in relationship with him in this life.

*MEDITATION* When I think of those who have preceded me in making the transition from earthly life to eternal life, what thoughts and feelings come to me? Do I sense that there exist a bond of love between us, made possible by the One Who is Love? Am I strengthened by the hope of the eternal life that is offered me through the death and resurrection of Jesus? How can I reassure others of what awaits those who are in union with the Lord Jesus and His Father?

*PRAYER* Lord God, may we always be reminded of those who have lovingly touched our lives while we and they were here on earth. We hopr to see them againg in eternal joy of heaven, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

*O DIVINE WORD, WHO TOOK FLESH FOR HUMAN SAKE, REDEEM US IN OUR SITUATION*
© Rev Fr Utazi Prince Marie Benignus

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