Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Wisdom 3:1-9; Psalm 23:1-6; Romans 5:5-11; John 6:37-40)
Praying And Interceding For Those Who Have Gone Before Us
In the time of their visitation they shall shine. (Wisdom 3:7)
Have you ever wondered why we bother to pray for those who have already died? After all, they’ve already passed from this life. The simple answer is because Scripture tells us to! Judas Maccabeus, an Old Testament hero, once sent money to Jerusalem to pay for a sin offering for some soldiers he had buried that day. The bodies of these soldiers were found with pagan tokens under them, indicating they had engaged in idol worship. Judas believed that his offering might help atone for their sin and bring them into heaven
(2 Maccabees 12:38-46).
The Catechism teaches us that “all who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030).
Today, why not dedicate your prayer time to interceding for those who have gone before you—both your loved ones and those you found it hard to love? We have no way of knowing who goes straight to heaven, who goes to purgatory, or how long each person stays there. But we do know that the souls of the righteous are at peace, even if they aren’t yet perfected in holiness (Wisdom 3:3).
Prayer is never useless! Even if you pray for someone who is already in the full light of the kingdom, God will take your intercession and pour out a different blessing, maybe on the Church, on someone who doesn’t yet believe, or even on you! All he’s concerned about is that we continue to pray and work for the building up of his body, both here on earth and in heaven.
“Thank you, Jesus, for having reconciled us to your Father. Lord, may all who have gone before us be fully purified and enter the full light of your kingdom.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the Mass readings and prayers, and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
- All the readings for All Souls Day speak of death and resurrection, the end of time, and eternal life. This includes the words from the first reading, for example, “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” (Wisdom 3:1-3). What do these words mean to you? In what ways do they provide hope for you and your loved ones?
- The Responsorial Psalm is from the 23rd Psalm. Why do you think this psalm is often read at funerals?
- What do these words from the second reading mean to you? “Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). How would you describe this hope? What impact does this hope and this “love of God” poured into your heart have on your life? What can you do to allow this truth to manifest itself even more in your life?
- The Gospel reading begins with these words: “Everyone that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me” (John 6:37). The reading ends with these words: “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” (6:40). These words, which should fill us with great joy, reiterate the basis of our Christian confidence and faith in the saving work of our Lord. In your everyday life, how do you try to give expression to your faith (and yes your joy) as one of the redeemed of God? How do you share this faith and pass it on to others – especially members of your family?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “Today, why not dedicate your prayer time to interceding for those who have gone before you—both your loved ones and those you found it hard to love?” It is probably easy to pray for our beloved dead with great hope, confident that they are resting securely in the hand of God. However, are there some men or women who have passed away that you have found “hard to love”? Are you willing to pray for the repose of their souls as well? If not, why not?
- Take some time to recall to mind loved ones, and others, who have passed away and pray now for the repose of their souls. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as the starting point.