The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day)
(Wisdom 3:1-9; Romans 5:5-11; John 6:37-40)
The preacher declared, “We all go to purgatory when we die.” Then he gave his reasoning: since no one on this earth is perfect, everyone dies in need of purification.
On one level the preacher may be too hopeful. Evil does exist, and some people submit to it. We pray that no one is condemned to hell, but we must not forego the possibility. On another level, the preacher may not be optimistic enough. There are a few who live spectacularly holy lives and are duly accorded heaven at death. But generally the preacher has it right. Most people never fully give up selfishness and will need some work before daring to show their face to God.
Today we pray for the dead hoping that in time other people will pray for us. Purgatory may not be the dreadful fire that is sometimes depicted. We could think of it as a kind of program for substance abusers. As cozy as some programs appear to be, participants invariably want to return to their families. Just so, the souls in purgatory long to be with God.