This year the Solemnity of All Souls’ day falls on Sunday and so we celebrate this beautiful feast day of our beloved brothers and sisters who have passed from this life on into eternal life with our Lord. As we turn our hearts and minds to those who have died and gone before us we do not mull over death and loss but we turn our thoughts to eternal life and our certain hope that one day we will all be together again in God’s eternal kingdom. Death cannot break the bonds of love that have been forged in this life. Love is stronger than death. (Song 8,6) The loss that we experience in the passing of our loved ones is a momentary affliction and should pass over to an awareness of the gain that is to be received in finishing this earthly pilgrimage and making our way to the place that has been prepared for us in the Father’s house. (Jn 14,1-4) Death is nothing but a passing shadow on life and we must keep our hearts and minds fixed on life – the brief time of pilgrimage that we have in this life on earth to be built up and perfected in love and our goal of the fullness of life that we hope to one day share with loved ones in the eternal home of the Father of light and love who makes all things new in Christ Jesus his Son. (Rev 21,5)
As we pray for those who have died we remember that, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1Cor 15,54) This victory is promised to us through our Lord Jesus Christ and the sacrifice of love that he accomplished for us on the cross. His “love unto the end” (Jn 13,1) and his perfect obedience to the Father (Rom 5,9) to whom he was returning shines like a brilliant light that dispenses all shadow of death. The celebration of this Solemnity of All Souls is not a morbid reminder of the loss that we have suffered because of death but is a celebration of joy and peace that we have in the Spirit of the Risen Christ. Our future is in heaven where we will not be alone but where we will be surrounded by a great crowd of saints (Heb 12,1) who share with us in eternal love, a love that is purified and perfectly lived.
Being alone, loneliness and isolation was never a part of God’s plan for human persons. We are bound together in love with those that the Father has given us in this world to share our pilgrim journey. Jesus prayed for us that the bonds of unity shared in Church, family and friendship would see us through this world of earthly trials and tribulations. “But now I am coming to you. I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely…and I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” (Jn 17,13.22-24) We are placed in one another’s lives to pray for one another, support one another and to love one another so that we may all finish the race and share in the prize of eternal life. Our Christian destiny is to “be with” Jesus, in this life now and in the eternal life to come. We want to be with Jesus together with all of our family and friends around us having finished the race together in love.
We are in this world to build a life of love on the foundation of love that we have come to know in Jesus Christ our Lord. That life is built up in the love that we share with those around us. We must be careful builders and build something that is beautiful, strong and enduring. All Souls’ day reminds us that what we have built will one day be tested for quality. “According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it…the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each one’s work.” (1Cor 3,10ff) When it comes time for us to pass through Purgation, the quality of the relationships that we have built in our earthly life will be tested. Will people remember us in love? Will they pray for us? Will they remain with us throughout our time of purgation? Did we build with straw to have all consumed in the fire or did we build with lasting stones of enduring love? Let us continue to pray for one another in life and in death that we may be one in love, attest to that love and stand strong on the day of our testing. May the love that we share be the enduring and never failing love of Christ Jesus our Lord.