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31st Sunday – All Saints Day

Filipino Catholics will flock to churches, cemeteries and memorial parks November 1and 2 to celebrate monuments of faith. Both feasts point to life. Both feasts are rooted in memory. Both feasts are fuelled by love.
All Saints Day and All Souls Day are twin spiritual and cultural occasions. These are occasions of rest, family bonding and prayer. To some, these days sadly, reveal only the social aspect. This situation gives rise to misconceptions by non-Catholics who question our biblical bases. But what can be more biblical than God’s love that transforms sinners into saints and purifies souls so they can inherit heaven. It’s all very biblical!
Why do we remember? Why do we hope in a life promised to us? It is because we have experienced love.
God’s love is so powerful an invitation and so attractive a prospect that many people lived their lives as a preparation for a fuller, richer, more abundant life with God in heaven. These are the saints, those who were faithful on earth and thus victorious in heaven. The Book of Revelations depict the “great multitude” from all walks of life, worshipping God and singing to him their eternal praise. They have “survived the time of great distress” – the time of trials – by holding on in faith to the God who saves.
These are the saints we know and venerate in the church but also the nameless saints who silently walked this earth filling other people’s lives with love. They felt God’s love and responded in love, and now they bask in love. Remembering them inspires us to listen to love’s call and to be faithful to it. Honoring the saints makes us realize that we can become like them if we only try to be faithful to God and to one another in everything we do.
In a special way we also continue to remember the ones who are closest to us – relatives and friends – and have gone before us; men and women with whom we shared our lives. After the drama of the wake and funeral, is every link with them destroyed? We cannot accept that. From the Bible to Tradition to personal testimonies, we are filled with the assurance that though they are dead in the eyes of men, in the God’s eyes they “live forever”. While some of them are already in heaven, some are still being prepared and purified for it.
And love, the power that defies boundaries, hatred and indifference, enables us to break through the walls of death and to feel our unity with these loved ones. It is not the flowers nor the candles that connect us with the departed, but above all prayer and love, that sustains our link with them. In heaven or in purgatory, they help us with their prayers. On earth, we help them as well with ours. And this is why we have a rich biblical and cultural tradition of praying for the poor souls in purgatory.
Honoring the departed makes us honor the God who is the one Master of life and who created us to live in perfect unity with each other. It also reminds us that love continues even beyond the grave. As love is powerful on earth, so it is even more forceful after our earthly pilgrimage. Let us continue to remember. Let us continue to hope. Let us continue to love.