“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. God’s will, what he created us for, is 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 from our first reading today, “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. He went to the girl, took her hand, “and the little girl arose” (cf. Mt 9:18-26).
Jesus’ assured his followers as he assures us today that the will of his Father is that all will be saved. Experiences like the raising of the official’s daughter, the son of the widow from Nain, and Lazarus, were not only seeds of hope planting the promise of his resurrection to come but a foretaste of the raising of humanity on the last day. His disciples witnessed Jesus’ actions and words, and not only kept these experiences in their hearts but shared them. 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.
This All Souls Day we celebrate the gift that Jesus was victorious over sin and death, not only for himself but for all of us. I remember JoAnn today and embrace the hope that “the souls of the just are in the hands of God”. Who do you remember? Let us lift up those we hold close to our heart, those aborted and miscarried, those who have died seeking a better life, as well as those who have died alone, and suffered tragic and violent deaths. 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).
Photo: Remembering JoAnn, my heart and my love. Picture from her birthday 2015.