Monday, 3 November 2014

All Souls (transferred)

2 Macc 12:43-45; Phil 3:20-21; Lk 23:33-43
We are gathered here today to pray for the eternal repose of those who have died.
Some of us here, if not many, along with millions across the world, will be here today thinking of someone in particular who has died this past year,
And I want to say a brief word about why it is important that we’re here,
And what it is that we hope for those who have died.

It’s important that’s we’re here because prayer is important.
Humans of every age have had some grasp of the need to pray to the deity,
In the fullness of time when Jesus our Divine Teacher came He taught us the importance of prayer,
And told that our Heavenly Father hears our prayers.

And one of the important things to pray for, as we have been taught by our Catholic tradition, and by the Jews before us, as recorded in the 2nd book of Maccabees, is to pray and offer sacrifice for dead, “so that they might be released from their sins”(2 Macc 12:45).

But this practice of praying for the dead is also of benefit to us:
It benefits us by continuing, in action, the action of prayer, it benefits us by uniting us with our deceased loved ones who have gone before us.
And, It benefits us by reminding us of the hope that we hold for the hereafter

Because it is only because of what we hope for that we have reason to pray.
As we heard the 2nd book of Maccabeees put it, it was BECAUSE Maccabees expected “the fallen to rise again”(2 Macc 12:44) that he had sacrifices offered on their behalf.

And that hope that we hold for those who have gone before us is also the hope we hold for ourselves: as we heard in our 2nd reading from St Paul to the Philippians, “our homeland is in heaven”(Phil 3:20).
Yet, this hope that we carry in our hearts is only something we carry if we remind ourselves of it, and this is one of the things achieved by praying for the dead.

So, our prayer benefits them, and benefits us.
And it is for this holy task that we are gathered here today.

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