November 2, 2016
Of all my recent reflections, today's commemoration takes the juxtaposition of the two realities, the perceived versus the spiritual/true, to its most extreme.
Either you believe in an eternal soul, an eternal existence that transcends the confines of earthly, human life, or "this is all there is." The implications are as big as they get; without eternal life, there is no true hope.
Today's feast is one of boldness, a celebration proclaiming that one of humanity's greatest and most anxiety-inducing questions, that of an afterlife, has been answered with absolute certainty by the blood of Jesus Christ. Our hope, unlike every other hope, does not disappoint. This is not a quaint reassurance to those going through hard times, but a rock-solid guarantee for those who would otherwise be undone by despair.
I have some friends, and their daughter has a grave with one date on it: November 2nd. Mary* was born and died that same day; the whole of her life, a world in itself, took place within one turn of the clock on All Souls Day, eleven years ago.
Think of the bitterness they taste every day.
And think of the sweetness today's readings hold for my friends. Manna from heaven, dripping with honey.
"In the time of their visitation they shall shine,and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect."
"We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life."
"If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him."
"And this is the will of the one who sent me,that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”
How beautiful that on "The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed," God's message to us is anything but a bleak, black funeral. Instead, we rejoice today in hues of gold, tested in fire, green pastures, and the precious blood of the lamb. These are the merciful colors of God's love for us, the colors of true hope.
Praised be Jesus Christ, who has taken death's sting.