The Gospel according to John (6:37-40)
Jesus said to the crowds:
“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me,
and I will not reject anyone who comes to me,
because I came down from heaven not to do my own will
but the will of the one who sent me.
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me,
but that I should raise it on the last day.
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.”
Opening Prayer: Loving Jesus, thank You for giving Yourself for me. May all who have known You be given the reward of eternal life with you one day. May I please be the good and faithful servant of You and of Your Father, so that You raise me on the last day with all who are pleasing to You. Amen.
I often use a portion of this Gospel when I’m presiding at graveside services. It’s a reminder of the promise we have as followers of Jesus that He will raise us up on the last day and that we are not saying goodbye for ever to those whom we are now physically separated from. If we don’t have that hope, then it is easy to see death as the thing that separates us forever.
Jesus, instead, promises that those who believe in Him will be raised up with Him to enjoy life with Him forever. Truly, that is the ultimate hope we have as His followers. But, it is conditioned on something on our parts. Elsewhere in the Gospels, Jesus emphasizes that if we are not merciful and forgiving, neither will our Heavenly Father extend mercy and forgiveness to us, either. On this All Souls Day, we are reminded of those that we are separated from by death. We pray that God will show His mercy to all of our loved ones who have left this life, and how we show that is by the mercy we show to those in our lives now. God longs to shower us with His mercy, but He needs for us to be people who show mercy, too.
I like to think of it this way: our time on earth is our “practice” for what we will live in eternity. If we are people of mercy, then we are more likely to be charitable to others, and to overlook their faults, realizing that we, too, have faults, and we hope that others overlook them and see the good people we are inside. Our practice in doing that conditions us to naturally see the good in each other, even in those who we may not have thought had any good in them. If we see that good now, we won’t be surprised by who we meet in heaven one day. Just as God had mercy on us, He will have mercy on some who we surmise maybe needed it more than we did. And, because of the time we spent cultivating that attitude of mercy, we will rejoice at seeing that mercy given.
One of the sites I use as a resource for writing of homilies and reflections is a site operated by the Irish Jesuits. I really loved this line from that site as it relates to today’s Gospel (and this All Souls Day): God wants everyone to be with him “on the last day”. On our part, we have to learn how to “see the Son” and “believe in him”, so that one day we can say with St Paul: “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me”.
May we all be found worthy to be with our Lord one day and be reunited with all our loved ones who have gone before us. May we be merciful and loving, just as God has been merciful and loving to us.
Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your great mercy for me. Thank You for those who have gone before me and that I pray are in Your presence even now. Help me to be a better follower of Yours, sharing Your love and mercy, because it is what You call me to do. Help me know that when I fall short, I have Your love and mercy to keep calling me back to You. Amen.
Action for the Day: Think today of someone in your family who has gone on from this life. Ask God to look lovingly on that person, and that He may welcome that person into eternal glory. Then, pray for all who have died, asking our Lord to show mercy to them all.