WE HAVE A MERCIFUL GOD WHO HAS GONE TO GREAT LENGTHS TO SAVE US!
(A biblical reflection on the ALL SOULS DAY, 2 November 2021)
Gospel Reading: John 6:37-40
First Reading: 2 Maccabees 12:43-46; Psalms: Psalm 130:1-8; Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 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.”(John 6:37-40 RSV)
“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 on the last day.” (John 6:39)
These words of Jesus should gladden our hearts. We have a merciful God who has gone to great lengths to save us! Not even sin can deflect His desire to rescue us. Right up until our last breath, God offers us the way to freedom and then, in a different way, He shows mercy even after we die. Celebrating ALL SOULS DAY, we reflect on Purgatory, that “final purification of the elect” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1031), where the mercy of God has its ultimate, hidden expression. Sometimes described as a cleansing fire (1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Peter 1:7), Purgatory lays to rest the effects of sin in us.
Of course, the existence of Purgatory does not exempt us from combating sin here and now. As Saint Paul wrote, “We have been buried with [Jesus] by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
How does this union with Jesus’ death work itself out in daily life? As we decide over and over again to unite ourselves with Christ and allow His cross to sever us from sin and death. We experience freedom from sin as we assert, in situations small and large, that we have indeed been crucified with Christ and are now dead to sin. As we allow Jesus’ cross to penetrate our lives, we will become more purified, less attached to our fallen nature.
Purgatory is simply an extension of the work of the cross, a continuation of God’s desire to bring us into His Kingdom. We should be grateful for such grace – yet not forget that God wants to purify us every day. Do not wait for Purgatory! Let Jesus’ love pierce your heart today! You will reap a double benefit: a less painful passage into eternal life and a more joyful, fruitful life here and now.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I exalt Your mercy and compassion. Instead of treating me as my sins deserve, You offer me purification through the cross. Help me to become as committed to You as You are to me. Amen.
Jakarta, 1 November 2021 [ALL SAINTS DAY]
A Christian Pilgrim