“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” (Jn 6:40).
This is what we believe, this is our hope, that we who encounter Jesus and believe in him shall have eternal life. This is God’s will, this is what he created us for, to be in communion with him and one another in this life and the next. A word of assurance that I often lean on is from the book of Wisdom: “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” (Wisdom 3:1-3).
The miracle of Jesus raising the daughter of the official embodies these verses from Wisdom. As Jesus entered the home of the official many were “making a commotion” and Jesus dismissed them stating: “Go away! the girl is not dead but sleeping.” He was ridiculed by the crowd but paid them no heed, went to the girl, took her hand, “and the little girl arose” (cf. Mt 9:18-26).
Jesus’ assured his followers that the will of his Father was that all will be saved and experiences like the raising of the official’s daughter, the son of the widow from Nain, and Lazarus, were seeds of hope of not only his resurrection to come but a foretaste of the raising of humanity on the last day. They witnessed his actions and words, and not only kept these experiences in their hearts, but shared their stories. This is the gift of the Gospels. We are able to enter into and experience these same encounters with Jesus again each time we read the Bible. Each time we pray, each time we worship and serve one another, we also experience Jesus who in each of these moments of encounter shapes and conforms us into who we have been created and called by God to be.
Today, All Souls Day, let us remember this hope that “the souls of the just are in the hands of God”. Let us lift up this day those we hold close to our heart, those who have no one to pray for them, as well as those who have died tragic and violent deaths, especially most recently, those of the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburg, and the man and woman killed at the Kentucky Kroger store, as we pray with the Church: “Merciful Father, hear our prayers and console us. As we renew our faith in your Son, whom you raised from the dead, strengthen our hope that all our departed brothers and sisters will share in his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever” (Prayer for All Souls, Liturgy of the Hours).