The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls Day)
(Wisdom 3:1-9; Romans 5:5-11; John 6:37-40)
The old priest said that he did not care if he was a heretic but he believed that all people are saved. He might have shown more respect for Church dogma, but in this case he could not be called a heretic. The Church teaches that hell exists, but it has never said that any human being resides there. Those who hold for universal salvation may look to today’s gospel for support.
Jesus tells the people that anyone who believes in him will have eternal life. He probably has in mind followers who make sacrifices to serve others, but their numbers are not necessarily limited. Is it not possible that all who have ever done a loving deed may be considered a follower who has served? Perhaps those guilty of serious sins were affected by conditions that lessened their culpability.
In any case today we pray for all the dead. We want to be generous enough to include in our prayers those whose deeds we detest. Our prayer should cover the man who just killed eleven people at the synagogue in Pittsburgh. It also would include a former boyfriend or girlfriend who may have betrayed us personally. Of course, it embraces our loved ones who fell short of perfection but nevertheless tried to help us.