All Souls’ Day, cycle A

Gospel Reading:  John 6: 37-40

The writer of this gospel uses the Greek word, theorein that is translated as “sees” in verse 40 (anyone who sees the Son . . .). It means to look with concentration, to linger, to study, to carefully consider . . .How can we try to ‘see’ Jesus and believe more completely in him?

From Celebrations, Nov. 2003:

Considered in light of today’s feast of All Souls, Jesus’ words remind us that each Eucharistic celebration is a taste of eternity, as well as an opportunity for intimate communion with all those great and good, small and weak, famous and ordinary, memorable and overlooked souls who have gone before us.  We are a part of a “cloud of witnesses” (Letter to the Hebrews) which is the Communion of Saints.  Today and everyday, faith reaches across the precipice that now stands between us and them.  Faith unites us with those who enjoy the full experience of eternal life. They pray for us and remember us, as we remember and pray for them.

From Ron Rolheiser in The Holy Longing: Why do we seek the living among the dead? Every good person shapes . . . the compassion of God in a unique way.  When that person dies, we must seek him or her among the living.  Thus, if we want a loved one’s presence we must seek him or her in what was most distinctively him or her, in terms of love, faith, and virtue.  If your mother had a gift for hospitality, you will meet her when you are hospitable; if your friend had a passion for justice, you will meet him when you give yourself over to the quest for justice, if your aunt had a gift for meals and laughter, you will meet her at the table with laughter.”

As Christians we visit graves, but more importantly we are to search for our loved ones outside of the cemeteries, among the living – at our tables, in our places of work, and especially when we pray together. (105-106)

On the subject of Purgatory, from Richard McBrien, Catholicism:

Purgatory is best understood as a process by which we are purged of our residual selfishness so that we can really become one with the God who is totally oriented to others – the self-giving God . . . the kind of suffering associated with purgatory, therefore is NOT suffering inflicted upon us from the outside as a punishment for sin, but the intrinsic pain that we all feel when we are asked to surrender our self-centered self so that the God-centered loving self may take its place.  It is part of the process by which we are called to die and rise with Christ. (1144-1145)  Hopefully, this ‘purgation’ begins here before death . . .

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