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The Promises of Jesus
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
Jesus said to the crowds: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from Heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. 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.”
Opening Prayer: Lord God, today is a difficult day because I am remembering my friends and family who have passed away. Increase my trust in you. I know that their lives are not ended but only changed. Jesus, do not lose any of the ones the Father has given into your hands!
- Fear of Death: November 2 occupies a unique place in the Catholic calendar because we remember all who have died in Christ. With the notion of Christ our Redeemer we are relatively comfortable. But what of death? We imagine death as the black-robed scythe, the termination of life, growth, and laughter. Death is a pall and a chilling of the bones. The passing over from life to death frightens us. In death, all that is familiar is stripped from us—except for Christ. Christ promises, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me.” The fear of death is the fear of an ultimate rejection—that we as persons will be rejected by life itself. But Christ has conquered death. Because he welcomes us into new life, death no longer has the power of ultimate rejection. Reflect on Christ’s promise, “I will not reject anyone who comes to me. I will not.”
- Christ Loses Nothing: In the movie A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Mr. Rogers said, “Death is human. Everything human is mentionable. And everything mentionable is manageable.” If death were an absolute loss and complete annihilation, it would be unmentionably dark. But death is meant to be a conversion, a passing from darkness into light. Christ lets nothing essential be lost. “This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me.” Not anything. Nothing given to Christ is lost. And so I give him my love, my life, my time, my personality, my quirks, my pastimes. All of it is taken up, embraced, redeemed, transformed, and preserved for eternal life. We are God’s children; he wants nothing that is authentically ours to be lost.
- Exaltation and Life: “I shall raise him on the last day.” With this brief statement, the Messiah opens grand vistas. We shall be raised by him, exalted on high. It shall be on the last day, the great day of redemption. “We firmly believe, and hence we hope that, just as Christ is truly risen from the dead and lives forever, so after death the righteous will live forever with the risen Christ and he will raise them up on the last day” (Catechism 989). Just as we hope and believe this for ourselves, so we hope and believe it for our departed loved ones. Together with the whole Church, let us pray for them.
Conversing with Christ: Jesus, death will never seem nice to me. It is cold and hard, just as it was for you on the cross. The psalms tell me that you do not rejoice in the death of your loved ones. Knowing that you welcome us into eternal life—that changes everything!
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will make an effort to stop by the cemetery to pray for the dead.
For Further Reflection: Read the book of Tobit in the Bible, which speaks of the virtuous action of burying the dead.
Deacon Erik Burckel, LC, is a religious in preparation for the priesthood. He writes articles and short stories for diverse purposes and publications, and can be reached at email@example.com.