Hope Does Not Disappoint
Solemnity of All Saints. Fr Leo Edgar relates today’s feast to tomorrow’s commemoration of All Souls.
The events that have taken place in recent weeks in The Middle East have so shocked the world, with the violent death of thousands of innocent adults and children in Gaza, and in Israel.
The crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, in that same land, called for an outcry no less loud, but instead we received four gospels which accounted for the life, death and resurrection of the Saviour, their Messiah, long anticipated by the Jewish people for many generations as the one they had been promised. For many of us, it is the tragic and often violent deaths of innocent children, as well as adults, that causes us to pause to consider how our existence will be after death and our ‘eternal life’?
In the Feast of All Saints, we are reminded of the fulfilment of God’s promise to mankind of His Kingdom that has been prepared for us.
In the liturgy for ‘All Saints’, the first of November, followed on the second by the celebration of ‘All Souls’, we recognise all those souls whom we believe God has rewarded and who are in heaven or on the way there; those who, during their lives on earth, recognised the need to love one’s neighbour, with the promise of eternal happiness for those who have not been given the prominence in the Church’s list of saints, and yet who we can feel confident have been so rewarded by being with God. Our list is long, and includes many whom we love and respect for the lives they lived here on earth, and the example they gave us.
When we observe the horrors of recent violence in the Middle East, we are posed with a question – Why does our world appear not to fully recognise the challenge which Jesus gave us, which was: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself”. It is in Matthew’s Gospel that we learn from Jesus’s own words in answer to the rich young man’s question, ‘What must I do to possess eternal life?’ Is there anyone who does not ask that question?
The disciples also asked Jesus a question, ‘Who, then, can be saved?’ To this Christ gives the answer that offers everyone hope! He replied, ‘For humans, impossible! But for God, everything is possible’ (Mt 19:26).
No matter how difficult it is, sometimes, to pray, it seems to be easier when we have something definite to ask for; like, for example asking God to heal someone who is very sick, or asking God to welcome a loved one who has died into heaven.
On the feast of All Saints & All Souls we remember especially all those individuals we have loved and who have gone to the Lord.
St. Paul reminds us that we can count on being saved by the life of Jesus; this confidence in the promise of eternal happiness helps us to cope with death; which is not to say that death is easy to accept, but St. Paul tells us that hope is not deceptive.
Steve Jobs, the great inventor of Apple (of i-phones and i-pads etc.) speaking to graduates at Stamford University, in the United States not long before his own death, spoke of death as the “greatest invention of life”! This from one of the foremost inventors of our generation!
When we celebrate the feast of All Souls, as a continuation of the celebration of All Saints we are witnessing to the love of God in the world and to the promise of an eternal life of happiness to all souls (including our own).