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The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)—No Permanent Goodbyes


All_Souls“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’” (John 6:37-40).
 
There are many people who have departed earthly life but are not forgotten by us or by God. Yesterday was All Saints Day, and today we celebrate those who have not been declared saints but who have lived lives of holiness and who have touched our lives and our faith. You might remember a loving grandparent, aunt, or uncle, or friend who has died. Today we recognize that these people may no longer be with us, but they are still present in spirit and with God.
 
Today’s gospel reading is set in the midst of a discourse in which Jesus describes himself as the “bread of life” (John 6:35-51). Jesus explains in this reading that on the last day we will be reunited with everyone who believes—no exceptions.
 
How do we tap into this powerful source of life and nearness to God? When we receive the body and blood of Jesus in the elements of bread and wine, we are incorporated into Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We receive the promise that we, too, will be among those who join him on the last day. Our “Amen” says that we are willing to take on the challenge to live as Christians—to follow Jesus in word and deed. The Eucharist is our hope to share in God’s glory.
 
The life and unity we are promised is not limited to some future life with saints and angels but is already available to us here, today, in our unity with all people. As we care for the sick, the poor, the displaced, or the sorrowful, we help to build that unity. As we celebrate the sacraments—especially the Eucharist, the source and summit of Christian life—we live in Christ, but we also do so in the ordinary times of our lives as we grow closer to those all around us.
 
Whenever new people come into our lives, we share with them the unity that will be complete only in the end. And whenever people leave us through death, we can confidently place them in the protection of God, who cares for them and promises to bring us back together again one day. In God, there is no goodbye—“God be with you” is forever.
 
How does the celebration of the Eucharist help you feel connected to those who have departed from your life?
 
Adapted from, Word on the Go, a downloadable resource from RENEW International.

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