The feasts of All Souls and All Saints remind us of the fact that as church we belong to an extended family – a family not bound by the constraints of time and space. On the feast of All Saints we celebrate all the saints of the church – those canonized and those people who touched are lives, good and ordinary people whom we know to be with God. I know for a fact I’ve buried many saints here from St. Gabriel’s.
On this feast of All Souls we think of all those who have died and who may still be in need of our prayers.
When we die we come to know God’s love for us in a whole new way and at the same time we come to know ourselves in a way we never knew before. We come to see how deficient, how lacking we were in responding and returning God’s love for us – we come to see how we neglected or ignored the gifts of God. We have a sense of how unworthy we are to be in God’s presence. We want to be purged of our self centeredness and self indulgence. We want to be rid of all those things that kept us from being Christ like. The prayers of those we leave behind can help us in our desire for readiness. Scripture tells us “it is a good and holy thing to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins.”
It is a bit like after a hard day’s work we want to freshen up, clean up before we sit down for dinner.
Our great consolation when we think of those we love and who have died is that they are at peace – that grace and mercy await those God has chosen. This truth helps sooth the pain we know when someone we love died a painful and tragic death. We know this because we trust in the love of our God who mercy for sinners knows no bounds and has been proved in the painful death and glorious resurrection of Jesus, His son. Jesus was the seed that fell to the ground and died to bear much fruit. This fruit, the victory of Christ’s resurrection is why our perishable bodies will put on imperishability and our mortal bodies will put on immortality and death will be swallowed up in victory and death will have no sting.
As we continue to celebrate this Eucharist, caught up in these two feast of All Saints and All Souls we pray for ourselves and for each other that we always remember and pray for those who have died, that we be grateful for the many ways they touched our lives and that we live our own lives in such a way that at the moment of our own death we will hear those welcoming words of Christ, “come, you who my Father has blessed, take for your heritage the kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world.”