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All Souls Day 2014
Cycle A

First Reading
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.

Second Reading
Romans 5:5-11

Brothers and sisters: Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. For Christ, while we were still helpless, died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel Cycle A
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.”

My sisters and brothers in Christ,

Every few years this Solemnity of All Souls falls on a Sunday and takes precedence over the normal Sunday of Ordinary Time. This year once more we celebrate the commemoration which prays for all who have died. The readings can be chosen from a list of various readings but the message of the Scriptures remains constant: when we die we will be judged and we ultimately will end up in heaven or hell. This teaching of what we Catholics call the last four things is deeply important in the whole of our spiritual tradition.

The Book of Wisdom reminds us that the teaching of the Jewish Scriptures, our Old Testament, are clear that we are always in the hands of God. We need to be reminded from time to time that the hands of God are loving hands. The image is that God created us with His own hands and destined us to live with Him.

The Letter to the Romans reminds us of the teaching of the New Testament that Jesus came to save us, to redeem us, to show us the love and compassion of the Father. The Gospel of John reminds us that we are made for eternal life and that Jesus will lose no one.

These teachings are important so that we can recognize how to live in this life. Hell is always a possibility but it is only possible if we reject love and if we reject life. We may live poorly, made bad decisions, choose awful things. That is how we humans are. Yet if within all of that we are seeking God and His love, all shall be well.

So as we pray for all the departed today, we pray with hope and with confidence in a God who loves us, a God who has sent His only Son to redeem us, a God who gives us the Holy Spirit deep within us, whispering to us the desires to seek life and to know the goodness of the Lord.