TWO OUTPOURINGS OF GRACE AT ONCE
(A biblical reflection on the COMMEMORATION OF ALL SOULS – Sunday, 2 November 2014
Gospel Reading: John 6:37-40
First Reading: 2Maccabees 12:43-46; Psalms: Psalm 130:1-8; Second Reading: 1Corinthians 15:12-34
The Scripture Text
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me; and him who comes to Me I will not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me; and this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given Me, but raise it up at the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that every one who sees the Son and believes in Him should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:37-40 RSV)
This is one of those special days where we get two outpourings of grace at once. Traditionally, All Souls Day is set aside to pray for those in Purgatory. Drawing from Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the Church has taught that everyone who dies in God’s grace but is not yet perfectly purified undergoes a final purification. These are the ones who “will be saved, but only as through fire” (1Corinthians 3:15; see also the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1030-1032). Similarly, various figures in the Old Testament “made atonement for the dead that they might be delivered from their sin” (2Maccabees 12:42). So this is the first outpouring. Today is a day to recall and intercede for those who are on the threshold of heaven.
What’s the second outpouring? Today is also a day to celebrate the firmness of our salvation. In baptism our old life was buried with Christ, and we have risen with Him into a whole new life. God does not want Jesus to lose anyone (John 6:39). Does this mean that now that we’re baptized we can sin all we want? Of course not! God hasn’t withdrawn His commandments. Common sense should tell us, as the Scriptures do (Mark 1:4,15; 16:16), that baptism must be accompanied by belief and repentance.
Today, God wants His love to so pierce our hearts that we would never want to offend Him or hurt anyone else. As we come to understand that we were lost in sin and that Jesus offered Himself up for us, we will want to imitate Him. Jesus’ love for us will move us to purify ourselves of every vestige of sin, every attitude that resists His words and His ways. Our outlook on ourselves and on the world will change, and we will become more and more like Jesus.
Why would we even want to wait for Purgatory? God is calling us to maturity – here and now – to receive all the gifts He wants to give us. He wants to empower us to build His Kingdom and spread His Gospel. By His grace we can change the world. Let’s do it!
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the bread of life that came down from heaven to bring us life. Nourish and strengthen us so that we might love as You love and in the end be welcomed into the beauty and wonder of Your Kingdom. Amen.
Jakarta, 1 November 2014 [ALL SAINTS DAY]
A Christian Pilgrim