Wisdom 3:1-9 Psalm 23:1-6 Romans 5:5-11;John 6:37-40
All Souls’ Day
“This is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (John 6:40)
What a hope-filled promise Jesus makes here! Everyone who lives and dies in Christ will be raised up on the last day. And because this promise is for everyone, it creates a special link between all of us who are baptized into Christ. It makes us all members of one family, binding us together in ways that go beyond simple church membership. In a sense, we all depend upon one another because we are all members of the one body of Christ. And that means that our prayers for each other— both living and dead—are more than good thoughts and wishful thinking. They have power because we are all united with each other.
In his encyclical Saved in Hope, Pope Benedict XVI speaks of the ancient Christian tradition of praying for the dead. He notes, of course, that it remains a source of comfort for us. But he also says that it demonstrates how intertwined our lives are with one another in the body of Christ:
No one lives alone. No one sins alone. No one is saved alone. The lives of others continually spill over into mine: in what I think, say, do, and achieve. And conversely, my life spills over into that of others: for better and for worse. So my prayer for another is not something extraneous to that person, something external, not even after death. In the interconnectedness of Being, my gratitude to the other—my prayer for him—can play a small part in his purification. (48)
Love is stronger than death, and it reaches across time to bind us together. As we reflect today on all those who have gone before us, we should remember that our prayers can benefit one another. Whether we are praying for someone we know here and now or someone who has already died, God hears us. And surely it pleases our Father to see his children caring for one another!
“Father, thank you for all the people you have put in my life, especially those who now sleep in faith. Together we place our hope in your promise of resurrection.” ~WAU