Annual Mass of Remembrance – Homily

It is our tradition, as it is in many parishes, to offer an annual Mass of Remembrance for those who died in the last year. Here is my homily for our Mass of Remembrance this year.

All Souls’ Day – Annual Mass of Remembrance
Wisdom 3:1-9
Psalm 23
Philippians 3:20-21
John 11:17-27
November 2, 2022

Losing a loved one is often a difficult time.  If they suffer a serious illness or weak from aging, it can seem like a great affliction “and their going forth from us, utter destruction.”  That is, unless we have faith.

If we have faith in God, if we have faith in Jesus, then we know that there is eternal life.  Jesus told Martha that Lazarus would rise.  All who believe in Jesus as “the way and the truth and the life” can share in the Resurrection.  Knowing this, we have “hope full of immortality.”

Yesterday we celebrated All Saints’ Day.  We ask the saints to pray for us in Heaven.  Today we celebrate All Souls’ Day.  We can pray for our deceased loved ones at anytime but today is a special day to pray for them.  We come together to pray in sorrow.

When your loved one died, just as “many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother” people offered you words of comfort.

When your loved one died, we celebrated a funeral.  In celebrating a funeral, we certainly pray for the family who is mourning.  We must not forget that at a funeral we pray for our deceased loved one.

Why pray for them?  We pray that they be cleansed in Purgatory of the remnant of their sins.  Purgatory does not change their sins.  God’s forgiveness comes in the Sacrament of Reconciliation before we die.  Yet, sin has an effect on us.  To be welcomed into Heaven, we must be healed of that effect.  As Paul writes to the Philippians, Jesus “will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.” 

When we pray for the dead, we are praying that God remove the remnant of their sins quickly and welcome them into Heaven.  When we have Masses said for our deceased loved ones, we are placing the souls of the just in the hand of God, offering the sacrifice of Jesus for them.

Heaven is what we are created for.  As Paul writes, “Our citizenship is in heaven.”  There lies our hope.

Still, the passing of a loved one is not easy.  For some here tonight, it has been a year since your loved one passed.  For others only a month.  We all grieve differently.  Even two people who are sitting right next to each other grieving for the same person may be at different points in their grieving.  That’s okay.  There is not one set way to grieve as we walk in the “dark valley” of death.

We do not grieve alone.  First and foremost, the Lord is at our side.  Remember, Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus.  In our grief we count on the Lord as our shepherd to refresh our soul. 

The Lord comforts us with words of hope. 

After Lazarus had died, Jesus told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” 

When we bury our loved one, these words of Jesus are used to introduce the prayers of intercessions at the burial.  These are not random words.  These are words of hope.  Our loved one has passed but their life is not over.

These are words we needed to hear when our loved one passed.  They are words we need to hear whenever we find ourselves lamenting the loss of our loved one.

In your grieving know that the Lord is with you.  As fellow Christians, we do not want you to feel alone.  We send out grief support materials.  Tonight, in our support for you we come together as we offer this Mass for all who have died in the last year.  As we pray for them, we also pray for you.

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