Our Brothers And Sisters Are In Good Hands
Wis 3, 1-9, Jn 11, 32-40
This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com.
Today the mother church all over the world commemorates All Souls. The Masses we celebrate today are prayers to ask God for forgiveness on behalf of all our deceased brothers and sisters. This is especially for those who are still in purgatory and most in need of God’s mercy.
But, we must pause a moment to ask ourselves, why pray for the deceased? When the letter to the Hebrews says: “After death comes judgment” (Heb 9, 27). And when there is a saying that says: “There is no repentance in the grave.” Does this not mean that we are wasting our time here? Not brothers, we are not wasting our time! These are simply the arguments of other churches against the teachings of the Catholic Church.
As Catholics, we believe in the Communion of Saints and this fellowship includes the saints of the church triumphant, militant and the suffering Church. So we are in a fellowship in which we could help each other through our prayers. The Church suffering in purgatory, are in need of purification in order to finally reach their eternal destination. We can support this from the book of Maccabees: “In those days, Judas Maccabeus, head of Israel, made a collection… so they offered a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of those who had died in the battle… To pray for the deceased so that they are free from their sins is a holy and suitable action” (Mac 12: 46).
Then, according to the Catechism of the Church, to pray for the souls in purgatory and the deceased are works of charity. However brothers, their situation should serve as a warning for us the living in order to do our best to enter straight into the Kingdom of God rather than stop over at purgatory. This is the best choice for each of us.
This is one of the questions written on the wall of death and that fills us with anguish: “The life of men terminates with death?” The word of God that we have read answers this question: “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will reach them. Foolish people, who have no faith thought that their sufferings were a punishment, that all are ended for them. Their passage was considered as a misfortune, their departure from us as destruction. But the righteous are at peace.” Brothers, have no fear, our dead are in good hands, much better than ours.
So while they lived and were with us, more than once they were victims of our shortcomings, our limitations, our selfishness and our injustices. They are now in God’s hands: hands of the father who is love and therefore is always willing to forgive; Hands of the father and mother full of love. The hand of God has given us life, it has led us along the paths of the life and, we have been liberated for freedom, responsibility, and love.
So our brothers and sisters are in God’s hands which are extended also to us at the time of death. This same hand will and take us to the other side of the border, where: “There will be no torment to touch us, where there immense happiness, the place of rest, light, peace, and immortality. There, where God himself shall wipe away all tears from our eyes; and where there will be no death nor lament, nor crying nor penalty” (Ap. 21, 3-4). These final steps have been taken by our brothers. They are now with God.
So, let us join in prayers with Jesus Christ, our elder brother, who has died and is risen, and has taught us the path that leads to our eternal home, the kingdom of God our father where we shall all gather to live forever.
Peace be with you!
Maranatha! (Come Lord Jesus!)