“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 our hope and what we believe, 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 Roman official, Jairus, 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 Jairus’ 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. Through the Gospels we are able to enter into and experience these same encounters with Jesus again and again. We also experience Jesus each time we pray, participate in communal worship, and are willing to serve one another. In each of these moments of encounter, we are conformed and shaped into who we have been created and called by God to be in this life and the next.
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. Let us lift up those we hold close to our heart, as well as those aborted and miscarried, those immigrants who have died seeking a better life, those who have died from COVID, those who have suffered tragic, unjust, violent deaths, and those who have died alone.
“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 this All Souls Day. Picture from her birthday 2015.