CACINA

Counter Cultural Calm and Comfort-All Souls

  • All Soul’s Day – Isaiah 25: 6-9, Ps 27: 1-9,13-14, Romans 5:5-11, John 6: 37-40

 

Tuesday afternoon, I sat with a bedridden elderly woman. I was just beginning to introduce myself to some residents at a nursing home.  I had no information about this woman other than a staff person suggesting she might enjoy a visit.  So I asked, “How’s it going for you?”

Her eyes began to form tears. “Oh, my husband, he’s here, he has dementia, Alzheimer’s.  He sits in a wheel chair and he just talks nonsense…he was never that way before.”   She made no mention of it, but it was clear she had her own health issues too.

We talked for a few minutes about the strain of watching a beloved spouse’s health deteriorate. I asked her: would she like to have me read to her out the Bible.  “Yes”, she nodded.  So I opened to Psalm 103, and read of the goodness of God, about God’s love and faithfulness, compassion and mercy.  She grew visibly calmer as I read.  “Oh, thank you,” she breathed.  The Bible I had with me was donated by the Gideon’s, and I left it with her.  Those free Gideon Bibles have a well-deserved reputation for helping people who are overwhelmed by life.

It’s very easy, and entirely normal, to forget God’s love when crisis strikes.   But in every section of the Bible, we can find reminders of the tender love God has for us, all of us.  Today one of our reading is from Isaiah, a Hebrew prophet who lived some 800 years before Christ.  It speaks of the Lord ending death and grief and tears on the earth, and offers assurance that the Lord will save us.  Then the Psalmist writes, “The Lord is my light and my salvation……..wait for the Lord with courage.”

Years later, St. Paul declared with great certainty that we will not be disappointed by our hopes in God.  Wearied by the sound bites of politicians, we need to be reminded of this!  Paul says, “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us…we are justified and saved through him…”  Paul adds, “We also boast of God.”  Now, if you have read much of St. Paul, you know when Paul says you can boast of something, he means it’s rock solid, without a doubt.

But if you might have any remaining doubt about hoping in God, our Gospel will dispel it.  John quotes Jesus saying, “…Everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him up on the last day.”

All Soul’s Day is about remembering those who have gone before us; those we miss, those we will mourn for the rest of our lives. But this day calms us, and draws us back from the pain of loss to the comfort of God’s love.  It is almost counter-cultural to remember that God didn’t make us disposable. We are eternal beings.  It is absolutely counter-cultural to say that we are eternal beings, but we still don’t know very much at all about eternity.  And it is probably close to anti-cultural to say that we don’t need to know more about eternity than we already know.  What do we know?  We know Eternity is real, prepared and waiting for you and me and those we love, and it will be beyond anything experienced in this life.

So, today we rejoice in life. We light candles to remind us of eternal life; their light breaks through the darkness of doubt.  We delight in the memory of those who have been born into eternity, even as we remain here for a time, and we continue to share the love of God.

 

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Carry the gospel with you

Posted in christian, Christianity, inspirational, religion, scripture by Mike on November 2, 2010

Gospel reading of the day:

John 6:37-40

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.”

Reflection on the gospel reading: The scripture passage we read today speaks to God’s strong desire for us. God reaches out to all people, regardless of whether or not they have heard the name of Jesus. This speaking to people that God does is the communication of God’s Word in every human heart. God’s love is far broader and more mysterious than our ability to understand it. This is the mystery of All Souls Day, the action of God in every human heart to work out the entirety of God’s immense and multifaceted design for salvation on earth.

Saint of the day: November 2 commemorates the faithful departed, asking God for mercy on the people who have gone before us. The custom of setting apart a special day for intercession for certain of the faithful departed is old. But the celebration of general intercession on November 2 was first established by St. Odilo of Cluny (d. 1048) at his monastery of Cluny in 998. From Cluny, the custom spread to the other houses of the Cluniac order, which became the largest and most extensive network of monasteries in Europe. The celebration was soon adopted in several dioceses in France and spread throughout the Western Church. It was accepted in Rome only in the fourteenth century. While November 2 remained the liturgical celebration, in time the entire month of November became associated in the Western Catholic tradition with prayer for the departed; lists of names of those to be remembered being placed in the proximity of the altar on which the sacrifice of the mass is offered.

Spiritual reading: One of the first things Christ says in the Gospel is this: “Happy the simple-hearted!” Yes, happy those who head towards simplicity, simplicity of heart and simplicity of life. A simple heart attempts to live in the present moment, to welcome each day as God’s today . . . . Simplifying our life enables us to share with the least fortunate, in order to alleviate suffering where there is disease, poverty, famine . . . . Where can we find the simplicity indispensable for living out the Gospel? Some words of Christ enlighten us. One day he said to his disciples, “Let the little children come to me; the realities of God are for those who are like them.” And so we would like to say to God: “God, you love us: turn us into people who are humble; give us great simplicity in our prayer, in human relationships, in welcoming others.” (Brother Roger of Taizé)