November 2, 2008, Year A
The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed
Reflection on the Readings
Theme: Where Are They Now?
We strive for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:14)
Every one struggles with sin. Probably all who read this reflection would testify to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Again, all who say this will also say in an honest moment they struggle to be holy. In this life we are admonished to 'put on Christ' and to be holy. We strive for this through prayer, confession and penance with a contrite heart.
This brings us to the question what happens if we die in a state of grace but not in a complete state of holiness? Forgiven but not perfected. We read in scripture that God is holy. Nothing unclean or defiled can enter into the absolute presence of God.
When I was a little boy I did what little boys do. I ran and played and got dirty. I was still mommy and daddy's little boy. No matter how filthy I got I still retained the family name. I was also welcome to come home for lunch. I was expected to return home to eat and sleep and be with the family. I was in a state of grace.
Before I could come to the table I was expected to go through a little purging. This was not punishment; I just wasn't completely prepared to be present at the table. My folks waited patiently for me to get presentable. Their love for me assured me there would be plenty of time for me to become appropriately ready to sit down and eat with them and my siblings.
The whole time I was going through this purification I was in the presence of my family. I was not an outcast. My standing in the family was not in question. I could hear them setting the table and their conversations. I could communicate with them as well from a distance. This was good but not as perfect as it would be sitting down together at the table. Once I had kicked the dirt off my shoes and washed the grime from my hands I could enter completely into the meal time.
God who is love allows time for us to be perfected in that love. We strive for holiness in this life, but if we leave this life with any impurity, love will wait for us. In this we fear no evil, for the love of God will purify us. We know our hope of Christ is not in this life only. Purgatory is not a time of second chances or punishment. St. Paul describes this purgation:
For no other foundation can one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. (I Corinthians 3:11-15)
There is faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love. It is love that draws us to the heart of the Holy Trinity. Our hope of salvation is anchored in the love of God. God who is love is not willing that we should perish. If we would be holy we will be made perfect in love. This is our hope here and now. In that love we will be completed, for when we seen him we shall be like him. He that has this hope purifies himself even as he is pure. Now we see through a mirror dimly, but then face to face.
Let us who believe in the life everlasting pray that light perpetual shine upon our faithful departed. This day we commemorate their faith and perseverance. The Spirit makes us aware of all that God has prepared for those who love him. May we grow in love with each other and with him who calls us to himself.
We come in worship each Lord's day to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect...thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe; for our God is a consuming fire. (Hebrews 12:22-29)
Let us pray: Dear Jesus, You are love. I give myself as a gift to you; may I be worthy and acceptable in your sight. I fear no evil for you are with me. O' love that will not let me go let me know thee well. May perfect love unite us and all the faithful departed within your sacred heart. Amen.