HOMILY THEME: A Day to Remember the Dead: All Hope is Never Lost.

BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu



_“Hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts.” *Romans 5:5*_

Yesterday was All Saints day, today is All Souls Day. Our celebration today is both bitter and sweet. Bitter because we remember our dead, sweet because we know the power of our prayers on their behalf. Our celebration today is not too different from what we do at funeral masses except that on this day, we do not have just one casket in front of the altar but many, very many, so many indeed.

It is easy for us to remember and pray for our close relatives, our friends, our parents, our colleagues, those with whom we shared good times, but today is also the chance to remember and pray for those who had no one to pray for them, those who didn’t have the chance of a befitting burial, the unknown souls; victims of natural disasters. (flooding, earthquakes, typhoon, and so on). We also remember millions of people who have died as a result of man’s inhumanity to man; victims of abortion, sales of expired drugs and fake food, holocausts, war and so on.

Why do we pray for the dead?

One, in praying for the dead, we actually remember them and by doing so, we offer them a great gift. I once read somewhere, “you will know your true value when you consider the speed with which you will be forgotten after your death.” A day like this is actually a good day for the dead as long as one living person still remembers them. Nothing is as beautiful as being remembered by someone after your death.

Two, by praying for the dead, we become wiser and better. Death is a great teacher and one of its lessons is the equality of all humans. Death teaches us that looking down on others or treating people with disdain, coldness or unforgiveness is senseless. Even the few minutes we spend thinking of our dead ones could enhance the quality of our lives and our relations with one another.

Three, our prayers for the dead help to reduce their suffering. As Africans, one of our traditional beliefs is in the notion of people who died “before their time.” Such persons are said to be in a state of wandering (roaming about) until they finally settle with the Ancestors. As Catholics, we believe in purgatory, a place that is neither hell nor heaven where the sins of the dead are purged (cleansed) until they are admitted to heaven. This is found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1030. There have been countless incidences of dead people appearing to the living either in dreams or in visions requesting for prayers or even going further to give advice or warning.

In the end, what we actually celebrate today is HOPE. Hope that as we pray for the dead, they will enter heaven, hope that if they are in heaven, they will pray for us. Hope that one day, when we too depart, there would be people around here praying for us. St. Paul tells us in our second reading today that Hope does not disappoint us.

Together with Job in our first reading, we sing: “I know my Redeemer lives.” I know God who is my Redeemer will not abandon me even after my death. I know I shall see God, whom I shall see on my side. Our Psalmist continues this song saying “The Lord is my Shepherd… surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for length of days unending.”

Finally, just like yesterday, we hear Jesus repeat the beatitudes again. As we hear these beatitudes again, we are made to understand that they apply not only to the Saints but to all departed souls. By repeating this reading, the church wants us to meditate on what is really important; the beatitudes.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, deepen our hope of resurrection for your departed servants. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Solemnity of All Souls. Bible Study: Job 19:1-27, Psalm 23:1-6, Romans 5:5-11 and Matthew 5:1-12).



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