Pray for Our Loved Ones & Hope for their Salvation
All Souls' Day Gospel Reflection 11/02/22
A few years ago, I was conversing with a priest friend who had to preside at a funeral mass later that day. The priest was newly ordained, and I could tell was a bit nervous about the prospect of the mass. And so, I told Father, “You know, I don’t know that my Dad is in heaven. Many Catholics presume their relatives go to heaven, but none of us are God who sit in that judgment seat. The great gift of the Church is that I can hope for my Dad’s salvation and pray for his soul and rest. So, make sure to emphasize the need for prayers among the family and friends for the repose of the soul of their loved one.” The priest looked reassured of his duty and vocation with these words.
The second reading for today is from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul synthesizes the Pharisees' school of thought of the Resurrection of the Dead with what that means for Christ’s mission on earth.
St. Paul writes:
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.
The Eastern Christian iconography beautifully illumines this understanding of St. Paul in their icons of the baptism of Jesus. The icons depict the water of the Jordan River in which Jesus was baptized as a tomb. There was no need for Jesus to be baptized, for He did not need to repent of any sin; however, Jesus sanctifies the water so that when He is raised, we too may be raised up with Him on the last day.
The gospel for today exhibits the perfect Johannine understanding of Jesus’ role as the envoy of the Father. Jesus says:
“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.”
In the Ancient Near East, the envoy of the Lord, or King, was understood to have complete authority of the ruler. And so, John’s Gospel understands the second person of the Trinity in this role. Jesus reminds us in today’s Gospel that we have the hope that our loved ones are in Heaven—that they will not be lost—because the Father has given Him authority that everyone who chooses to see our Lord Jesus may have eternal life and our Lord Jesus will raise them on the last day.