Feast of the Faithful Dead

Matthew 25: 31-46
Wis 3:1-9 / Ps 23 / Rom 6:3-9

…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
(Matthew 25:40)

None can deny the Great Divide,
One day we’ll have to face our goal;
The deeds we do now in this life
Will decide the fate of our soul.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (Matthew 25:31-46)

Reflection

Today is both a day of meditation and a day of rejoicing. We honor our beloved departed by visiting their graves, praying for them, and contemplating on the good that they had done while they were still alive, and celebrate their victory over death and eternal residence in heaven. While we are praying for them, we are also reminded that life on earth is so fleeting and temporal that we must make every moment justify our existence— because like our departed loved ones, we too are destined for life eternal, according to how we have lived our life here. Today we are reminded that when the end comes we will have to give an accounting of how we treated our Lord Jesus Christ in the persons of the weak and needy. True, without exception, all of us will experience the pain of loss and separation, just as we experience mourning, hunger, thirst, insults and persecution. But we also rejoice in the thought that like our faithful departed, we will be reunited with God, and in the light of God’s glory, we will laugh with the realization that all our sufferings on earth were nothing in terms of our eternal “compensation”!

St. Paul’s letter to the Romans assures us that “Just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in the newness of life” (Rom.6:4b). But this can only happen if we profess and practice His commandment: You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev. 19:18). All of us were born because of love – by God and by our parents’ love for each other; and so all of us are called to love, in the service of one another. One cannot call himself a Christian if he cannot serve his neighbor – by giving food to the hungry, clothes to the naked, hospitality to a visitor, a visit to a sick person or inmate, etc. These we must do if we wish to be counted as His sheep on the day of Judgment.

Dear God, we pray for the repose of the souls of our loved ones, as we believe in the teaching of Your Church on the communion of saints. May our prayers help in bringing them to the glory of Your kingdom, so that they too may pray and intercede for us. Amen.

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