November 2, 2014 – The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls)
“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) With those words St. Paul begins his message to the Romans in the second reading. As we commemorate All Souls Day, the implication of all the readings can be condensed into one word: Hope.
As might be expected on All Souls Day, the readings deal not just with the hope of the fulfillment of Christ’s promise to us, but also with our firm belief in and grasp of eternal life. The Book of Wisdom, although attributed to Solomon, was written only fifty years before the birth of Christ according to most scholars and historians. Our first reading from the third chapter is one which is often used as part of funeral liturgies. It begins with “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.” This insight is a vital part of our view of stewardship — that is, all comes from God and all goes through God. God is in control of everything in our lives and by conceding that, we are better able to live God-centered lives.
It is also worth noting that in the middle of this reading is this statement: “yet is their hope full of immortality.” Of course, this speaks to the hope to which we made reference, but it is also essential to know this is the first time the word “immortality” appears in the entire Bible. Our hope in the Lord is completely connected to our belief in everlasting life.
As mentioned at the opening of this reflection, St. Paul greets the Romans in today’s second reading with the assurance that “Hope does not disappoint.” By knowing how much God loves us and by being aware of His promises to us, we are able to maintain and sustain the hope which should bring us comfort always. Notice that God’s love does not slowly drip into us; it is “poured into our hearts.” To accept salvation, to accept what Christ did for us, we must also realize that we are sinners. This is an important point which Paul makes to us in this reading from Romans. Paul spent the majority of this letter leading up to this point by explaining to us and reminding us that we are the “ungodly” people to whom he makes reference. Comprehending this is what fills us with hope, and living our lives in stewardship for the tremendous gift of this is what fulfills us.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus completes the indication of immortality found in the first reading. The Lord says, “…everyone who sees the son and believes in him may have eternal life.” When we say, “Our hope is in the Lord,” this is exactly what we mean. When we are hungry, we know that food will solve the problem. However, we are speaking of a spiritual hunger here. Our lives are filled with times of despair, and perhaps sadness. It is this hope in the promise of Christ, our hope in salvation and eternal lives of joy with the Lord that allow us to live with a positive outlook on life. Stewardship is a positive way of approaching life. The stewardship way of life is filled with hope, and thus can be filled with joy.