Homily for the Commemoration of All Souls Year A
Theme: WHO WILL SAY ONE MASS FOR THE REPOSE OF MY SOUL?
By: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka
Homily for Monday November 2 2020
R1 – Wis. 3:1-9
RESP. PS. – PS. 23
R2 – ROM. 5:5-11
GOSPEL – MATT. 11:25-30
A story was told about a French priest, who visited Messina inorder to have a panoramic view of the Messina Cathedral Church, which happened to be the only erected building that survived the 1784 devastating Messina earthquake; that equally claimed uncountable lives.
He arrived Messina at one fine summer day and getting the key from the Custode-commenced admiring the Cathedral edifice and copying the inscriptions. The aesthetic composition of the Cathedral got him carried away that he forgot that the day was waning.
The time he realized himself, the Custode had already locked all the doors of the Cathedral, thinking the priest had gone. He tried other doors, but all were locked.
The priest shouted in vain, for the earthquake had destroyed all the buildings in the neighbourhood, and there was no one to hear his cry.
At this juncture, he had no other alternative than to submit his fate and make up his mind to sleep inside the lonely Cathedral Church.
He looked round for a place to establish himself. Everything was of marble except the confessional. He ensconced himself and found a bit solace on a chair to sleep. Sleep, however, was not forthcoming, based on the superstitious and ill fated dispositions that took away every feelings of drowsiness and dizziness.
At about midnight, he perceived a lightening around the Cathedral sanctuary and a figure of a monk on habit and cowl walked out from the niche at the back of the altar.
On reaching the centre of the altar, the figure exclaimed in a deep and solemn voice: “Is there any priest here who will say a Mass for the repose of my soul?”
No answer following, and the monk walked slowly down the church, passing through the confessional, where the priest saw that it was the face under the habit was a dead monk.
After a while, as the clock struck half an hour, the same incident occurred: the same lightning, the same figure, the same question: “Is there any priest here who will say a Mass for the repose of my soul?”, and no answer returned. The same monk, illuminated by the same earthly light, walked slowly down the church.
At this juncture, the priest mustered guts and resolved if the incident happens again, he would answer the question and consequently say the mass.
As the clock struck again after half an hour, the altar lighted again, the same monk appeared again, and when he once more exclaimed, ” Is there any catholic priest who will say a Mass for the repose of my soul?”, the priest boldly stepped out of the confessional and replied in a firm voice, “I will.” He then walked up to the altar, where he found everything prepared for the celebration, and, summoning up all his courage, celebrated the sacred rite.
At the conclusion of the mass, the monk spoke as follows, “for one hundred and forty (140) years, I have asked this question, and until this night in vain. You have conferred on me an inestimable benefit. There is nothing I would not do if I could for you in return; but there is only one thing in my power, and that is to give you notice when the hour of your death approaches. The priest heard no more. He fell down in a swoon and was found the next morning by the custode at the foot of the altar. After a time, he recovered and went away.
Beloved in Christ, today is All Souls. Today the Holy Mother Church invites all her children across the globe to commemorate millions and billions of our departed brothers and sisters who have gone before us, marked by the sign of faith; many of whose voices echo each day in our ears, “Who will book a Novena Mass for me?” “Is there any catholic priest who will say a Mass for the repose of our souls?”
Most of these forgotten beloved deceased ones sometimes, make some unusual appearances signaling us of their sufferings state; pleading for an offering of Eucharistic Celebration for the repose of their souls. Yet we are often to busy to read and understand these signals.
The Commemoration of All Souls is a practice that dates back to the ancient Jewish tradition as recorded in the Talmud.
This practice was acknowledged and practiced by Judas Maccabees in II Maccabees 12: 39-46. The passage describes how Judas, the military commander, discovered that those of his men who had died in a particular battle had been wearing forbidden pagan amulets. His men at once “begged that the sin committed might be fully blotted out” (2 Mc 12: 42). Judas then “took up a collection from all his men, totaling about four pounds of silver and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering” (2 Mc 12: 43). The narrator continues, ”If he had not believed that the dead would be raised, it would have been foolish and useless to pray for them; whereas, if he had had in view the splendid recompense reserved for those who make a pious end, the thought was holy and devout. This was why he had this atonement sacrifice offered for the dead, so that they might be released from their sin” (2 Mc 12: 44-46).
St. Paul seems to have shared this traditional Jewish belief. At the death of his supporter Onesiphorus, he prayed: “May the Lord grant him mercy on that Day” (II Timothy: 1:18).
The church of the First and second centuries, equally shared the same tradition as we see in one of the last requests of St Monica to her son, Augustine, who was a bishop: “When I die, bury me anywhere you like, but remember to pray for me at the altar” (St. Augustine of Hippo,Confessions, Book 9, Chapter 11, and Section 27).
However, the Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent).
*WHY DO WE PRAY FOR THE DEAD; IS IT NOT WASTE OF TIME? (NCHEGHARI ODI NA IME ILI?)*
Some of our separated brethren, who do not believe in praying for the dead, always have this claim, “ncheghari adighi na ili” (no repentance in the grave).
The Gospel reading makes it explicit, that some mysterious doctrines like this is not revealed to the learned and clever, rather, to little children who follow God on the principle of “Fides querens intellectum,” (faith seeking understanding, and not vice versa).
However, the Catholic doctrine holds tenaciously, the four last things, viz: Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. Yet, we believe in God’s unfathomable and loving mercy, upon which we commit the souls of the dead, asking for pardon and forgiveness.
Nevertheless, the scripture assures us that:
(a) Nothing is impossible before God (Lk.1:37)
(b) Where two or three are gathered, I’m there and will hear them (Matt. 18:19-20)
(c) Whatever you ask in the name of Jesus, I will do (Jn. 14:12-14)
(d) Whatever we bind on earth he will in heaven and whatever we loose on earth he will loose in heaven (Mtt. 18:18).
So even our prayers for the repose of dead are assured of being harken to, before God’s merciful throne.
*WE EQUALLY REMEMBER THE SCRIPTURAL AFFIRMATIONS THAT:*
(a) Nothing impure will see God (Rev. 21:27
(b) If God should Mark our guilt who would survive (Ps. 130:3)
(c) And we have all sinned and gone short of God’s glory (Rom. 3:23)
(d) Even the righteous man sins seven times a day (Prov. 24:16)
So, while praying for the deceased, we remind God of his promises never to allow his beloved know decay. (Ps. 16:10).
Beloved in Christ, the sustainability of today’s commemorations of the dead hinges on faith in the RESURRECTION. The scripture ascribes that, “without faith and belief in the resurrection, there will be no forgiveness of sins” (2 Corinthians 15:17); And this faith, says St Paul in the second reading, we are convinced, will never deceive us (Rom. 5:5).
Furthermore, Jesus, who defeated his last enemy, death (2 Corinthians 15:26), as manifested in the resurrection morning and at the solemn High Mass at the grave of Lazarus, mandates us like he commanded the faithless onlookers at the grave of Lazarus to unbind him; to equally join hands in unbinding our dear ones who have gone for their eternal reward and who are currently in a state of ongoing purification, by offering Masses for the happy repose of their souls.
A story was told about a little boy who was so much in love with his mother, parish priest and teacher.
One fateful Sunday morning, the priest invited volunteers at Mass to lead in the prayer of the faithful.
The little boy who had been looking for opportunity to rewards these wonderful people in his life, rushed out and made sure he was the first to handle the microphone just to pray for his mother, parish priest and teacher. He prayer thus:
Heavenly Father, I thank
you for the gift of my
mother, my parish priest
and my class teacher.
They have been good
and wonderful to me.
My prayer for them is,
May their souls and the
souls of all the faithful
departed, through the
mercy of God rest in
“Holy Ghost Fire” and “God forbid” ana ari ibe ya elu, from both the Parish priest, the mother, the teacher and entire worshipping community.
*WHY WHERE THEY SHOUTING GOD FORBID AND HOLY GHOST FIRE*?
Probably, because of the fear of the _UNKNOWN_ destination of the soul after death.
The first reading from the book of Wisdom reassures us today that “the soul of the righteous is safe in the hand of God.”
*WHO ARE THE RIGHTEOUS?*
They are those who seek God’s will in all they do. The scripture says, “they seek God’s kingdom and its righteousness first. (Matt. 6:33); .
The scripture extols righteousness as that virtue which exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34), which we must all pursue today; and equally, that virtue which avails its promoters the assurance to flourish like the Palm tree and grow like the Lebanon cedar (Ps. 92:12)
Finally, there is no righteousness by association or belongingness to a particular or specific vocation as: pope, bishop, priest, religious, lay faithful; Or particular profession, viz: doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, banker, civil servant; Or a designated career as: students, business tycoon, artisan, politician, president, governor, senator, rich or poor as special guests of honour in the hand and kingdom of God. Never!
RIGHTEOUSNESS (IKWUBA AKA OTO), ENTAILS A RIGOROUS PROCESS OF PUTTING GOD FIRST IN OUR UNDERTAKINGS.
AS THE CHURCH’S MILITANTS HERE ON EARTH, MAY GOD GRANT US ARDENT IMMITATION OF THE CHURCH’S TRIUMPHANT; AND EQUALLY THE FAITH TO ALWAYS REMEMBER THE CHURCH’S SUFFERINGS IN OUR DAILY PRAYERS AND MASSES. AMEN.
*ETERNAL REST GRANT UNTO THEM OH LORD!*
*LET YOUR PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE ON THEM!*
*MAY THE SOULS OF ALL THE FAITHFUL DEPARTED..*
*THROUGH THE MERCY OF GOD REST IN PEACE. AMEN* .
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
FR GERALD MUOKA