Remembering the Departed

by Edmond Lo

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

Wisdom 3:1-9

The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them. They seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace. For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality; chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself. As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself. In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble; they shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever. Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.

Romans 6:3-9

Brothers and sisters:

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin. For a dead person has been absolved from sin. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him.

John 6:37-40

Jesus said to the crowds:

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For 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.”

Remembering the Departed
Edmond Lo

The days are getting shorter and the temperatures noticeably lower. Along with the earlier dusk and chillier weather, the green foliage of summer, so full and exuberant only a few weeks ago, suddenly looks dull and withered. Here and there the winds playfully swirl about to scatter the falling leaves. Fall has arrived. Nature has its way of reminding us of the seasonal rhythm that it adheres to so religiously. In a very special way, it also reminds us of our loved ones who have departed….

Quite fittingly, the Church chooses to commemorate the departed faithful at this time of the year. Those of us whose heartstrings are pulled by the melancholy of the rhythm of nature to miss their departed ones will find comfort in the gospel reading of the Feast of All Souls, in which Jesus promises resurrection and eternal life for “everyone who sees the Son and believes in him” (Jn 6:40). Our hope, steadfast as it is, is rooted in Jesus' own resurrection. As St. Paul explains so convincingly in the second reading, if death cannot overpower Christ, the Son of God, we know that it has also lost its jurisdiction over the “sons of God” whose adopted sonship is granted because of their faith in Christ.

The departed ones may look like the fallen leaves that we step on at this time of the year – nothing but decay, destitution, and utter destruction – and yet “they are in peace…they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself” (Wis 3:3, 5).

Our hearts go out to those who are grieving their departed family members and friends; especially to those whose loved ones have recently passed away. On this Feast of All Souls, let us pray for the repose of their souls…


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