“…and Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:5)
As we celebrated All Saints yesterday and today All Souls it becomes Bitter and sweet. Bitter because we remember our dead, sweet because we know the capacity of our prayers on their behalf. Our Mass today is the same as what we do at a funeral except that on this day, we do not have just one death, but many, very many, so many just look at the pictures.
It is easy for us to reminisce and pray for our close relatives, our friends, our parents, our colleagues, those with whom we shared quality time, but today is also the chance to remember and pray for those who had no one to pray for them, those who did not have the chance of an appropriate burial, the unidentified souls; victims of natural disasters. (Flooding, earthquakes, typhoon, and so on). We also remember millions of people who have died because of man’s inhumanity to man, victims of abortion, sales of expired drugs and fake food, holocausts, war and so on.
Why do we pray for the dead?
One, in praying for the dead, we remember them and by doing so, we offer them a great offering. “I once read somewhere, “you will know your true value when you consider the speed with which you will be forgotten after your death.”” (“A Day to Remember the Dead: All Hope Is Never Lost …”) A day like this is a good day for the dead if one living person still remembers them. The movie COCO, yes, a Disney movie has Christian themes. Nothing is as wonderful as being remembered by someone after your death.
Two, by praying for the dead, we become knowledgeable and worthier. Death is a great educator and one of its teachings is the equality of all humans. Death teaches us those judging others or treating people with disdain, coldness or unforgiveness is foolish. Even the few minutes we spend thinking of our dead ones could boost the quality of our lives and our interactions with one another.
Three, our prayers for the dead help to reduce their pain. Africans, have a traditional belief in the notion of people who died “before their time.” Such persons are said to be in a state of roving until they finally settle with the others that have gone to the other side. As Catholics, we believe in purgatory, a place that is neither hell nor heaven where the sins of the dead are cleansed until they are permitted to enter heaven. This is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1030. There have been numerous occurrences of dead people appearing to the living either in dreams or in visions requesting for prayers or even going further to give advice or warning.
In the end, what we celebrate today is HOPE. Hope that as we pray for the dead, they will enter heaven, hope that if they are in heaven, they will intercede for us. Hope that one day, when we too pass on, there would be people around here praying for us. St. Paul tells us today that Hope does not fail us.
Together with Job 19:25 in our first reading, we sing: “I know my Redeemer lives.” I know God who is my Redeemer will not desert me even after my death. I know I want see God, whom I shall see with me. Our Psalm continues this song saying “The Lord is my Shepherd… surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for length of days unending.”
Finally, just like yesterday, we hear Jesus repeat the beatitudes again. As we hear these beatitudes again, we are made to understand that they apply not only to the Saints but to all departed souls. By repeating this reading, the church wants us to meditate on what is important, the beatitudes.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, deepen our hope of resurrection for your departed servants. Amen.