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THE COMMEMERATION OF ALL SOULS: CONGREGATIO PRO CLERICIS HOMILY

November 2, 2011

 

 

THE COMMEMERATION OF ALL SOULS

 

“The month of November takes its own particular spiritual tone from the two days that open it: the solemnity of All Saints and the commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls).  The mystery of the communion of the saints in a special way illuminates this time at the end of the liturgical year, leading us to meditate on the eternal destiny of humanity in the light of the paschal mystery.  In this we have our hope, which as St Paulsays, ‘does not deceive us’ (2 Rom 5:5).

 

In today’s celebration, faith underlines and fulfils the feelings written deep in the human soul.  The great family of the Church lives these days as a time of grace and according to the rightful vocation: staying close to the Lord in prayer and offering his redemptive sacrifice in suffrage for the faithful departed.

 

The commemoration of All Souls is an invitation to everyone not to hold back, living weighed down by mediocrity.  The knowledge, however, that “creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God” (Rom 8:19) broadens every human horizon.  The Churches faith calls for us to not “fall back into fear” (Rom 8:15) remembering that we have not received a spirit of servitude but that of adoptive sons (cf Rom 8:15).  Thus today’s liturgy reminds us to reach towards that promise of a fuller life so that we poor creatures can say with wonder and certainty that “I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another” (Job 19:27).

 

There is a contrast between how things appear to human sight, and how they are seen by the eyes of God.  That’s why Isaiah speaks of the necessity of stripping the “veil that is spread over all nations” (Isaiah 25:7).  The world regards the one who lives long and prosperously as fortunate, and we applaud those who are wise, well-educated or powerful.  For God, however, it is others who are called ‘blessed’.  There are two dimensions of reality – one more profound, true and eternal; the other finite, temporary and superficial.  It is important to emphasise that these two dimensions do not simply follow in succession, as if the true life only begins ‘after’ death.  In reality the “true life”, the eternal life, has already begun now, in this world.  Eternal life reveals itself now when we open ourselves to the mystery of God and receive it, so that we sing with the psalmist:  “I am sure I shall see the goodness of God in the land of the living” (Ps 27:13) and to be able to “live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps 27:4).

 

God is the true wisdom which never grows old, the authentic wealth that never corrupts, and the happiness that the hearts of all men desire.  This truth, which is seen through today’s readings from the Wisdom books, and which re-emerges in the New Testament, is fulfilled in the life and teaching of Jesus.  From the perspective of Gospel wisdom, death, teaches us an important lesson because it makes us see reality without filters.  It encourages us to recognise the falling away of all that appears great and strong in the eyes of the world.  Before death every motive of human pride and jealousy is lost and instead all that is truly worthwhile reappears.

 

Everything here on this earth comes to an end.  Everything in this world is passing away.  Only God has life in Himself; He is life.

 

Our life is a participation in God’s life, however, we can only enter this eternal life due to the particular relationship that the Creator has established with us.  God, whilst seeing the expulsion of man from His presence, didn’t break His initial relationship with him but, rather, He established another step which is described by St Paul in the second reading: “Christ died for us while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8)

 

If God, according to St Paul, loves us so much that He desires that no one He entrusted to the Son be lost (c.f. John 6:39), then we can, and indeed must, allow ourselves to participate in this offering; making ourselves a free gift to God.  In this way we recognise God, as we are recognised by Him; we dwell in Him, as He longs to dwell in us.  Just as Jesus Christ defeated death by His resurrection, thanks to the glorious power of the heavenly Father’s love, we pass from death to life (c.f. 1 John 3:14).

 

We join in the communal prayer to the Father of all goodness and mercy so that, through the intercession of Holy Mary, Our Lady of Suffrage, the encounter with the fire of his love will quickly purify the faithful departed of every imperfection and transform them to the praise of his glory.  And we pray that we pilgrims on earth will always keep our eyes and hearts directed to the ultimate goal: the house of the Father; Heaven!”

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