All Souls Day
On November 1st we celebrate All Saints, but November 2 we celebrate All Souls Day. But why celebrate?
“Dare we hope that all be saved?” Asked Hans Urs von Balthasar.
St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “First of all, then, I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions, and thanksgivings be offered for everyone....
“This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth. For there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all.”
God our savior…wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.
This is the good news we live and proclaim. May we continually pray for all people, our loved ones, and, yes, even our enemies.
And we pray for the living and for the dead. And the dead? Yes, even the dead. We cannot put limits on God’s love and mercy. His Mercy endures forever. The Father in Luke 15 proclaims: My son was dead but has come back to life. We must rejoice!
For what can separate us from the love of Christ? Even time and space? God is eternal, so even if a loved one died without a definitive faith, we trust that God, in his mercy, can allow for mercy outside of time and space. For there are those whose faith is known to God alone, and who are we to judge our neighbor and condemn anyone to the flames of hell.
In the words of St. James: “Merciless is the judgment on the man who has not show mercy; but mercy triumphs over judgment.”
“Who has directed the spirit of the LORD, or instructed him as his counselor? (Isaiah 40:13-14). We entrust those who have died to the mercy of God.
In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he wrote of our hope: “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
“For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die.
“But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath.
“Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:5-11).
Saint Paul prays for the soul of a deceased fellow believer: "May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains. But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me. May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus” (2 Tim. 1:16-18; 4:19).
Paul ends the letter by stating: "Greet…the family of Onesiphorus” (2 Tim.4:19). It is clear that Onesiphorus has died, and Paul is not only praying for him, but also wants to comfort the family.
As Saint Ambrose said: “We have loved them in this life; let us not abandon them in death.”
Let us proclaim the hope of this faith through our very lives. May we love others into the love of God.
And may God have mercy on us all.