Rm 14. 7-9,10c-12; Ps 22; Mt 25. 31-46
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
It has been an ancient practice of the church to pray for the deceased. The church prays “for all in Christian and catholic fellowship departed, even without mentioning...their names, under a general commemoration.”/1/ Each mass allows the church, at once locally and universally, to solicit for all the dead: Grant them, O Lord, we pray, and all who sleep in Christ, a place of refreshment, light and peace./2/
We pray for them to enjoy divine refreshment. Yet we cannot know everyone to whom God offers that gift because our expectations cannot match God’s desires. The familiar parable of the son of man coming in his glory makes that clear. Both those on his right and on his left were surprised by the ways they attended and failed to attend the son of man! In life and death, in making our faith alive and in snubbing it, God always surprises us.
Our vocation is to place ourselves into the heart of our Creator and Redeemer. God will still surprise humans, especially with God’s merciful love. Placing ourselves into the heart of our Creator and Redeemer is safety for all who have been claimed by the name of Jesus. That is the tenor of St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans: we are to live in and for the Lord. As we heard St. Paul summarize: whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
The Carmelite souls, who lived hidden lives in prayer, found that to be their most conducive way to live in and for the Lord. They continue to pray for us. We pray for them so that they might continue to be surprised by the way the divine refreshment, light and peace continues to unfold for them.
1. St. Augustine, On the Care To Be Had for the Dead, 6.
2. Eucharistic Prayer I. Each Eucharistic Prayer remembers the faithful departed with different wording.
Wiki-image of Sagina subulata by Jerzy Opioła is used according to the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 license.