Entering into Jesus’ Death and Risen Life, All Souls’ Day, November 2, 2013

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Bernadette Parish, Fall River, MA
The Commemoration of All The Faithful Departed, All Souls’ Day
Second of Three Masses
November 2, 2013
Wis 3:1-9, Ps 27, Rom 6:3-9, Jn 11:17-27

To listen to an audio recording of this Mass, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the homily:

  • “The souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them,” the Book of Wisdom reminds us today as we assemble with faith to pray for our faithful departed and all the dead. We pray with great hope that our beloved dead are in fact in God’s hands because the Book of Wisdom goes on to remind us, “Grace and mercy are with his holy ones and his care is with his elect.”
  • These words, “just,” “holy ones,” and “elect” aren’t able to be predicated of just anyone. In today’s second reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans, we see how one in fact becomes just, through being justified in baptism. He tells us that when we were baptized, we were baptized into Christ’s saving death, we became one with him in death, so that we be united with him in the resurrection and live a new, risen life. That’s the life of the just that God’s grace and mercy make possible. It’s a life-long journey, an exodus from slavery to sin, that begins in baptism and is meant to continue into eternity.
  • Since on the day of our baptism, we die for real in Christ and experience his resurrection, as long as we keep that risen life alive, as long as don’t extinguish it through a return to slavery to sin, when we experience physical death it is nothing other than a change of address to a place far more beautiful than any Newport mansion. That’s because the truly Christian life, the life of faith, is a life in union with Christ, crucified and risen. It’s a life in which we’re crucified to the world and the world to us so we can live with that newness of Jesus’ resurrected life. St. Paul gave witness to the first part of this in his Letter to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me. And the life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). Jesus gave witness to the second part of this truth in the Gospel for this Mass from the famous scene of the raising of Lazarus.
  • When Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise, she responded with faith, saying that she knew he would rise in the resurrection on the last day, something that no doubt Jesus had talked to them about in his frequent visits to their home. But Jesus revealed that the resurrection was not so much a fact as a relationship. “I am the resurrection and the life,” he said. “Whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” In this Year of Faith and in our life of faith, it’s key for us to grasp the significance of Jesus’ words: whoever believes in Him, even if he dies, will live; if we live and believe in him, we will not die, even after our soul departs from the body in anticipation of the reunion in the resurrection on the last day. The risen life, the life of the just, the life of the faith is believing and living in Jesus.
  • In the Psalm today, we prayed, “One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate his temple.” God always far surpasses what we ask for. By his death and resurrection, and by allowing us to enter into his death and resurrection through baptism, Jesus has made it possible not only to dwell in the Lord’s house, gaze on his loveliness and contemplate his temple, but to dwell in the himself and to become, ourselves, the Temple of the Lord’s presence. The Lord is our Light who fills us with that holy light; he is our salvation that rescues us from slavery to sin and makes the life of the just possible.
  • Today we come to pray for all our beloved family members, the vast majority of whom — thanks be to God — were justified by entering into Jesus’ death and resurrection in baptism, who believed in the Lord and sought to live the Christian life. We also pray for those who did not have that privilege on earth, that both groups would have made room for God’s “grace and mercy” so that their souls may be forever more in God’s loving hands and they may experience a miracle far greater than the resuscitation of Lazarus.
  • Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace! Amen!

The readings for the Mass were: 

A Reading from the Book of Wisdom (Wis 3:1-9)
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.  For if before men, indeed, they be punished, yet is their hope full of immortality;  Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.  As gold in the furnace, he proved them, and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.  In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;  They shall judge nations and rule over peoples, and the LORD shall be their King forever.  Those who trust in him shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with him in love: Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with the elect. The Word of the Lord

Responsorial Psalm (Ps 27)

R.  The Lord is my light and my salvation.

The LORD is my light and my salvation;
whom should I fear?
The LORD is my life’s refuge;
of whom should I be afraid?

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

One thing I ask of the LORD; this I seek:
To dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
That I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD
and contemplate his temple.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call;
Have pity on me and answer me.
Your presence, O Lord, I seek.
Hide not your face from me.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

I believe that I shall see the bounty of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD with courage;
be stouthearted, and wait for the LORD.

R. The Lord is my light and my salvation.

 A reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (Rom 6:3-9)

Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.  For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection.  We know that our old self was crucified with him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin.  For a dead person has been absolved from sin.  If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.  We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. The Word of the Lord.

Alleluia Verse and Verse Before the Gospel
“I am the resurrection and the life, says the Lord. Whoever believes in me will never die.”

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John (Jn 11: 17-27)
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.  Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, only about two miles away.  And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him; but Mary sat at home.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  [But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise.”  Martha said to him, “I know he will rise, in the resurrection on the last day.”  Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,  and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”  She said to him, “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.” The Gospel of the Lord