11.2.17 Thurs. wk 30 All Souls Day
1st Rdg . Wisdom 3: 1 – 9
Romans 5: 5 – 11
Gospel – John 6: 37 – 40
†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.” The Gospel of the Lord.
Homily: Fr. Mike Murphy Hope for All The Faithful Departed
Today is a day of remembrance. It can also be a day that is filled with sadness as we again feel the emptiness that we once felt when our loved ones passed away. And while death and the sadness that accompanies it is real, and it is a part of life, there is great hope in the words of †Jesus in the Gospel today. “†Jesus said to the crowd: ‘Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me.’” (Jn.6:37) †Jesus begins by recognizing our place in His life. †Jesus calls us “gifts” from the Father. Imagine that! You are a gift to †Jesus from the Father. And the Father is infinitely generous; He would only give His Son the best of gifts. You and our loved ones who have passed on, are the best of gifts given to †Jesus by the Father.
Our loved ones, who have already passed from this life, have always been treasured by †Jesus; even during times when human weakness was so obvious in their lives. But the love of †Jesus for them never waned, it never diminished, because †Jesus always loves us, and He can only love us in one way, and that is infinitely.
As St. Paul wrote in his Letter to the Romans: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ †Jesus.” (Rom.8:39) And you know, unlike us who tend to throw away gifts once they are no longer useable, for all eternity we are gifts to †Jesus from the Father that He cherishes. Death does not change this truth!
Then †Jesus said: “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.” (Jn.6:38) Not everyone who passes from this life does so in the state of grace; we know that. Some may not have had the opportunity to be reconciled to God before they died. Yet, you still love them despite their human weaknesses and mistakes. We must believe that our love for them is pale in comparison to the love that †Jesus has for them. After all, †Jesus gave His life for them on the cross. (Pointing to the crucifix hanging on the wall behind the altar.) I think the words of St. Catherine of Genoa might be helpful here in understanding what happens to our loved ones who died in the state of sin. What happens to them? St. Catherine wrote this: “If a soul were brought to see God when it still had a trifle of which to purge itself…a great happiness is granted to the holy soul that grows as they draw nearer to God. For every glimpse, which can be had of God, exceeds any pain or joy a (person) can feel. The Holy Soul clearly sees God to be on fire with extreme love for them.” What Saint Catherine is teaching us is that the vision of God is so beautiful, it is so magnificent (as we are standing before God) that the weak, sinful soul cannot resist unity with God and with such beauty. And the soul, at that moment, seeks reconciliation, growing in perfect faith and perfect love for God. And what do you think God says, when they say: “I’m sorry.” Does God say: “It’s too late!” No. He is the God of love. At that moment, when they see all the beauty of God – they say: “Wow! I’m so sorry that I have offended you!” The Lord will put His arms around them and He just loves them for all eternity.
Finally †Jesus offers these words of hope: “Everyone who sees the Son, and believes in Him, may have eternal life and I shall raise him up on the last day.” (Jn.6:40) St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that when we enter the presence of God, when we see the face of perfect love, all that is weak, all that is sinful within us – is drawn out of us and blows away like smoke in the wind. And all that remains is the purest love, the purest joy, and the purest peace. This is how we enter the Kingdom of God, in the image and likeness of God, just as read in the first letter of John: “Beloved, we are God’s children now and what we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2)
The words of †Jesus in this Gospel must be a source of comfort as we think about our loved ones whom we miss; and we feel empty because they are not with us. These words should also be a source of hope for us. †Jesus reminds us: No one is truly lost to God. Even when we try to hide from God, through sin and weakness, the Lord will look for us just as the Good Shepherd looked for the lost sheep.
So in our feelings of pain and loss, let our hearts be nestled in hope that one day we shall see them again, and we shall we shall enjoy the fullness of love with them forever.
Eternal rest, grant unto them, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and all the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.