All Souls Day
Romans 5:5-11 or 6:3-9
Once again our liturgical year brings us to the commemoration of all the saints, and the commemoration of the faithful departed. In some way, it is the same cycle of life that we experience from year to year. We rejoice in the birth of our children and grandchildren (and great-grandchildren), and we surrender to God the lives of our loved ones. For most of our Catholic people, the birth of a child is an event that calls for celebration. For many of our Catholic families, the death of a loved one can be the most profoundly felt loss in a person’s life, or it may be the great act of faith that accompanies our deliberate "letting go" of a person beloved in life, but no longer able to sustain the stress of biological life.
One of the readings offered for today’s celebration of the Eucharist, is the passage from Paul’s letter to the Romans, Chapter 6, verses 3 and 4: Or are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life.
I was struck by the contrast in these two passages which speak of our being "baptized into Christ Jesus" and being "baptized into his death". While in verse 8, a different relationship with Christ is named, "we have died with Christ" that we may "live with him."
In the first verses "baptized into", we are given a sense of motion, direction, action. The Greek preposition is "eis", into. Our lives are given a pattern of living which is to draw more closely into the mystery of Jesus’ life, which begins with and is made possible by our baptism. We "seek the Lord", into whose life we have been joined, and into whose experience of death we, too, shall journey.
Once we have given ourselves to the seeking of the Lord in our lives, the respite we shall enjoy is that which verse 8 calls being "with" Christ.
Today’s celebration of the liturgy is a "Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed." It’s the feast day of each one of our beloved family members and friends who have died. It includes those who left the mortality of time generations ago, but who live on in my genes, in my culture, in my memory. It includes my uncle Louis Arevalo, who died last month, and it includes our Fr. Bernie Weber, who died in September of this year. Today celebrates their being "with Christ", no longer journeying, no longer struggling against the obstacles encountered on the way, no longer in doubt, no longer in sorrow. Having been baptized into the death of Christ, they now live with him.
Fr. Arthur Carrillo, C.P. is the director of the Missions for Holy Cross Province. He lives in Chicago, Illinois.