Tuesday, November 01, 2011

The Souls of the Just are in the Hand of God

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

By Colleen O'Sullivan

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… 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 his elect. (Wisdom 3:1-3, 9)

For if we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. (Romans 6:5)

“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 6:40)


May our brothers and sisters, whom you called your sons and daughters on earth, enter the kingdom of peace and light, where your saints live in glory. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

(Prayer, Office for the Dead)Eternal


In preparation for writing the Wednesday Daily Tripod, I usually look at the Scripture readings a week in advance. Dismay filled my heart when I realized that this week the readings are for the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed. As I am writing this, it is three weeks to the day since my family buried my mother. I protested: God, why are you doing this to me? Couldn’t these readings have been on somebody else’s day to write the Daily Tripod? I’ve been steeped in death and dying for weeks, even months, and I need a break from it. But I didn’t hear any answer, which is a response in and of itself. So, I settled down to study the readings for today.

My heart and mind are full of many things – memories of my mother; worries about my 85-year-old, somewhat bewildered father; new awareness of family tensions and resentments; new responsibilities for my father’s finances and care; snippets from the funeral Mass and burial; wishes for discovery of more cancer cures or preventive measures; images of my friends’ supportive faces; as well as sadness and grief.

One memory in particular stands out. I was at my parents’ house a few weeks before my mother died. She asked me if I would bathe her, because she was too weak to do it herself. I was taken aback, because my mother was always a very private person, not one to ever undress before me, but I said yes I would. As I gently washed her cancer-ravaged body, I could only think of the brokenness of Christ on the Cross. It was truly an intimate moment and a privilege to be allowed to minister to her in this way.

I thought of that as I was reading the first line of the reading from the Book of Wisdom: “The souls of the just are in the hand of God, and no torment shall touch them.” And a few lines later, “They are in peace.” It’s comforting to think of my mother being with God, relieved of her physical suffering, truly at peace at last. It’s hopeful to read Paul’s words and be reminded that we will be united with Christ in the resurrection. When my grief is no longer so fresh, it will once again fill me with joy to hear Jesus say that everyone who believes in him will have eternal life and will be raised on the last day.


Today, we take time to remember all our family members and friends who have died and to pray that they are at peace in the loving and forgiving arms of the Lord.