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. (Jn. 6:37-40)
Today, we celebrate All Souls Day. Under the current pandemic, we have seen over 200,000 deaths in the United States and death due to racial violence. The realness of the pandemic and racial violence affects us in so many ways. It has led us to more resonant grief or lamentation, trapped in a space with no outlet to relieve the pain. We know the power of the liturgy, but liturgy is limited. We know the power of prayer, but it seems like a twinkle in a sea of darkness. Let our solace be drawn from scripture, Lamentation 3:17 -26.
"My life is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; my enduring hope, I said, has perished before the LORD. The thought of my wretched homelessness is wormwood and poison; remembering it over and over, my soul is downcast. But this I will call to mind; therefore I will hope: The LORD's acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; they are renewed each morning— great is your faithfulness! The LORD is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him. The LORD is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him; it is good to hope in silence for the LORD's deliverance."
The Book of Lamentation is a response to the destruction of Jerusalem. It is the communal mourning of survivors. We must continue to be faithful, but more importantly, we must remain hopeful as we celebrate the commemoration of the faithful departed. We must be hopeful that their prayers for us living find a way to our faithful hearts. Let us pray for those who have died and let their souls visit our space, for we may call them holy too, for they may intercede for our well-being.
Our prayers share in the redemptive power of death as Christ has taught us in His death and resurrection. The death of a loved one redeems us; hence, we, too, are redeemed by our brothers and sisters' death around the world. In this time of suffering, let us offer hope in God's mercy (His mercy is greater than His wrath.) Whether suffering caused by this deadly virus, racial tension, or political zeal, know that God does not allow illness and evildoers to go unnoticed. His divine involvement will prevail because we have hope in those that have gone before us and the hope in a gracious God.
Let us pray!
“[believe] in him [to] have eternal life” (Jn. 6:40).
Author: Darron C. Woodus, M.A.
Pastoral Associate to the Urban Vicariate