NOVEMBER 2: ALL SOULS’ DAY
Rest in the Peace of Christ
Today’s celebration is not the celebration of death but the immortality of the human soul. However, the celebration of All Souls Day offers Christians the opportunity to reflect on the immortality of the soul, the importance of righteousness, and the afterlife. We have a chance to rediscover the reason why we must remain faithful to our baptismal promise and why we must continuously reject evil and live for righteousness in anticipation of the life hereafter (Ps.90). Why is this so important for us as Christians? Because death is not the extinction of the human person. It is a transitioning into another mode of existence to live with God forever – this is the ultimate purpose for which God created humankind.
We have a guaranteed form the Prophet Daniel: “Multitude that sleeps in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan.12:2).” Christ consolidated Daniel’s prophesy in Matthew 25:46. Much earlier Jesus reminded his audience “the virtuous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father (Matt.13:43).” In other words, whether good or evil the soul will survive the afterlife but the consequence will not be the same for all. Evil is doomed but a hopeful and glorious future lies ahead for the virtuous.
Wisdom 3:1-9 assures the virtuous soul of the full protection of God. They will live in the hand of God unscathed by the torment of hell. The death of Lazarus and the rich man gives us a preview of the afterlife. Lazarus was welcomed into the bosom of Abraham while the rich man endured his everlasting torments in Hades for his reckless behaviour on earth (Lk.16:19-31). We have a similar example with the rewarding of the saints in Apocalypse 7:9-17. Those who protected their sanctity celebrated the goodness of God who rescued them from the second death, lead them to springs of living water and dried away all tears from their eyes just as the Father promised in Isaiah 25:6-9. God never fails to fulfil his promises. He will never fail us if we are faithful to our baptismal commitment.
The Church celebrates All Souls Day because Christ entrusted the pastoral care both of the living and the dead to her care (Matt.10:8). It is not the role of the Church to judge or condemn anyone before the second coming of Christ. Christ Jesus is the sole judge of both the living and the dead (Rom.14:7-12). The Church’s role is to act as an ambassador of Christ, reconciling the world to God (Rom.5:20). She prays for the living as well as for the dead only because she trusts in God’s divine mercy and the hope of the resurrection. Otherwise, it would be stupid and superfluous to pray for the dead (2 Mac.12:44).
Christ never restricted the contents of the prayers of the Church. Instead, he told his followers “Whatever you ask for in my name I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask for anything in my name, I will do it (Jn.14:13-14).” We pray for the souls of the faithful departed because we take full recourse in the Lord’s promise and because we live in the hope of the resurrection of the dead. In the end, it is all in God’s hands. He will judge each soul according to their respective stewardship
Lord, may the souls of the faithful departed rest in your peace.