We know that we are all connected.
We know that each of us as individuals is in relationship with everyone else, that what we do has an impact on others, that there is no such thing as a person who exists on their own.
The reality is that these relationships, which are an inevitable part of human life, can be healthy and life-giving, or they can be unhealthy and destructive.
So much about the Catholic faith is about relationships because we believe that God himself is the healthiest, most life-giving relationship as a community of persons: Father Son and Holy Spirit.
The relationship that is the Holy Trinity is so life-giving that God’s love spills over into his creation: he makes persons who are NOT God, just to love them, and so they can experience the joy of loving him.
Is it any wonder, then, that we long for connection and healthy relationships in our lives? Our whole existence is tied up in our capacity to love others and be loved, and nothing feels more right than to discover a community of love in which we belong.
What happens, then, to this connection when we die? When we experience the death of someone close to us, we experience a real sense of finality, of ending. We begin to live without them walking and talking with us, and we start to realize that this will be the case for as long as we walk this Earth.
Our Catholic faith, of course, teaches us that this isn’t the end. The truer truth is that those who have died are still connected to us, and often more powerfully. So yesterday the Church celebrated the great feast of All Saints Day, also called the day after All Hallows Eve. As we heard last week, this feast is to celebrate those who are in heaven, yet still connected to us. All the saints still care about us, and are able to be present to us and pray to God for us. Whether they were part of our family or not, they are our ancestors in faith and hope, and when we reach out to them, we can have a healthy and life-giving relationship with them.
Now, very often, when we are close to someone, we see their faults. And very often, when death comes, it catches us unprepared. There might be some broken relationships we wished we had healed. We might have sinned against someone, or they might have sinned against us. Or, let’s be honest, we might have been in on a few big sins together.
When death takes our loved ones away, and we know they aren’t perfect, what do we believe happens to them?
Well, we know we are still connected. And we know that the Creator has more than enough mercy to bring all people into heaven. And so we have faith that the work of building healthy, life-giving relationships can continue even after death.
This is what today’s feast of All Soul’s Day is all about: living out the love from which death cannot separate us. We can pray for our loved ones who have died, that the Creator will receive them into his embrace. We can forgive and ask forgiveness from them. We can share every moment of this Earthly life with them, joy and sorrow, and have the chance to see them again on the other side.
We don’t have to go down into darkness, cut off from everyone. Praise be to the Risen Christ, our life can be the joyful, merciful, eternal web of loving relationships, right now and ever after.
Let us pray
And, as our faith in your Son,
raised from the dead, is deepened,
so may our hope of resurrection for your departed servants
also find new strength.