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Choosing to Believe

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)

First Reading: Wisdom 3:1-9

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.
For if before men, indeed, they be punished,
yet is their hope full of immortality;
chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.
As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the LORD shall be their King forever.
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.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 23:1-3A, 3B-4, 5, 6

R. (1) The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
He guides me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
with your rod and your staff
that give me courage.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.
all the days of my life;
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.
R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Second Reading: Romans 5:5-11

Brothers and sisters:
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.
For Christ, while we were still helpless,
died at the appointed time for the ungodly.
Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person,
though perhaps for a good person
one might even find courage to die.
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
How much more then, since we are now justified by his Blood,
will we be saved through him from the wrath.
Indeed, if, while we were enemies,
we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son,
how much more, once reconciled,
will we be saved by his life.
Not only that,
but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel: 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.”

NAB

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My grandfather, my Papa, died when I was in my late 20s and pregnant with my second child. I have little snapshot memories of his funeral. The panic I felt at being out of the state when he took a turn for the worse. The care with which my dad rearranged the pins on my grandfather’s dress blues that adored the quiet and still body laying in rest. My father quietly explaining to me that the body was like an empty glove—the soul was gone to Heaven. Having my family gather around my tiny bump of a tummy, expressing about how comforting it was for them to see that life continues amidst the death. There was a certain peace present throughout the weekend.

About a month later, I lost that little baby growing inside of me; the contrast between my Papa’s death and my little baby’s death couldn’t have been greater.

What I remember most from that time is not snapshots of a beautiful funeral weekend surrounded by family, but rather feelings of immense loss, loneliness, and emptiness. I longed to be in control as life took a turn away from my plan. Life went off-script, and I found myself feeling helpless.

And yet we aren’t really helpless in this life. We have been given the Good Shepherd, not just to guide us and protect us, but to save us and bring us to everlasting life in Him. But we have to choose to do so. We have the opportunity to follow Him and embrace His gift of a true and never ending life every day.

Every decision we make can bring us closer to Him or lead us away. We choose to love. We choose to follow Christ. We choose to place our hope in His gift of eternal life. The rest may be painfully out of our control, but it also pales in ultimate importance when compared to our salvation. Remember His promise in the Gospel: “[E]veryone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.”

On this All Souls Day, we take the opportunity to commemorate the Faithful who have gone before us. Let this be a day that brings us peace and comfort as Sisters in Christ who, too, will be raised with Him on the last day.

How will you choose to love today? What will you do today to grow closer to Him?

photo credit

MaryRuth Hackett is a full-time wife and mother doing her best to teach her four children to love God and country. You can find out more about her here

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