Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
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.”
Today the Church celebrates All Souls Day. This is the day that we remember all the faithfully departed. The Roman Catholic celebration is associated with the doctrine that the souls of the faithful who at death have not been cleansed from the temporal punishment due to venial sins and from attachment to mortal sins cannot immediately attain the beatific vision in heaven, and that they may be helped to do so by prayer and by the sacrifice of the Mass.
This is our teaching on Purgatory, which causes some people to say, “Purgatory is not in the Bible.” The word “trinity” is not in the Bible either, but most Christians believe in one God in three Persons. We first hear about the praying for the dead in Maccabees in the Old Testament. It has been a part of the Christian tradition since before the time of Jesus.
Purgatory does not mean that your future hangs in the balance between heaven and hell; it means that you are on the way to see Jesus face to face. You just need to be purified from your sinfulness in this life.
I like the analogy of going to a matinee movie on a sunny afternoon. When you come out of the dark movie theater into the bright sunshine, what happens? You have to shield your eyes because the sunshine is painful. You have to prepare your eyes slowly to be in the sun. The same is true with heaven. Our souls have been darkened by sin in this life. There are effects of sin that remain when we die. And this needs to be purified before we can enter into the presence of Jesus. But oh what joy that will be when we see Him face to face!
We hear in the reading today how the Lord came to save all of us. His desire is for every one of us to be with Him for all eternity. He doesn’t want to lose any of us. Only our sinfulness and our refusal to accept His love and mercy can keep us away from Him.
So today, we remember all who have died. Take time to think about loved ones who have gone before us. Because we are still connected in the Communion of Saints, we can pray for them and they can pray for us. Let us pray that one day we all will be united with them for all eternity in the bright presence of Jesus.
Do I believe Jesus wants me to live with Him forever?
Do I notice the effects of sin in my life?