Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet or Black
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls, which means that we celebrate the memory of all those who have departed this life before us into the afterlife. The souls of the dead are separated from their bodies, and while their bodies sleep, their souls await the resurrection of the dead at the end of time, during the Last Judgment, when Jesus the King will come again and judge all the living and the dead, and this is part of our faith.
We believe that all the souls of the righteous will be judged by God to belong to Him, and as the Last Judgment shows, they will be counted among the saved ones, and be granted the eternal life and happiness which God had promised all of us. Meanwhile, the souls of the wicked and all those who had done evil in life, and never repented from those evils, will be cast into the eternal damnation and punishment in hell, with Satan and his angels.
Why do we then celebrate today, as the day of commemoration of all the souls who have departed this life? That is because, our Faith believes that, while the righteous ones and those who have done justly in life, will enter heaven directly, being found worthy of it, who are the saints, whose feast day we just celebrated yesterday, the solemnity and feast of All Saints. And those who are wicked and evil in life, they would be condemned to a state of eternal death and suffering, cast into hell and the lake of fire.
But how about those who were with sin, but yet also were righteous? Many of us are in this state, as we commit venial sins and sometimes even mortal sins, and yet in our lives we also commit things that are good and righteous in the sight of God? God is loving and merciful to us, brothers and sisters in Christ, and therefore, if we had been faithful and righteous in life, despite of our sins, we will not be cast into hell and suffer for eternity without hope.
That is because hell is reserved only for those who constantly refused to listen to the Lord and commit mortal sins, and other form of sins, one after another and failing to seek the Lord’s mercy. Hell is however, not exactly a place, but a state, in which we are separated from God and His love for eternity, without hope of redemption and salvation, as we ourselves have rejected the salvation in Jesus in the first place, through our actions.
The suffering is because of the unimaginable nature of losing God’s love and presence in our lives, which brought despair and sorrow so great that it is painful. This is certainly not the fate which God intended for all those who remain faithful to Him. But at the same time, for many of us, we are still not yet worthy of heaven, for the glory of heaven is reserved for those who are truly just alone, and sin has no place in the presence of God. Remember that God is just and His hatred against sin is as great as His mercy and love for us all.
Therefore, our Faith has the concept of what is called purgatory and limbo, in which the souls of the dead and all the souls of those who have not been baptised and yet are righteous among the nations, remain during their sojourn before they are worthy of heaven, suffering temporarily for the consequences of their sins. In the purgatory and limbo, the souls who are there are not without hope, unlike those who are in hell, but they also long for the happiness and joy of heaven which the saints enjoy, and that temporal separation from God, even though not permanent like those souls in hell, bring them great longing and great suffering.
Therefore, on this commemoration of the All Souls’ Day, we commemorate those souls of our brethren, who had departed before us, and we pray for them, asking also the intercession of the saints and imploring the Lord for His generous mercy, to be given to those souls who now suffer in purgatory, for the venial sins and other impurities which prevent them from truly being with God.
But at the same time, this occasion should also be a reminder for us who are still alive, that we should take heed of this fate of the souls suffering in purgatory, and even more so, that we take heed of what is going to happen to the wicked and those who embrace evil, who will be cast down into hell. We have to be vigilant in our own lives, and guard our actions, that evil will not have its way into us, and cause us to commit sin.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, our Church in fact consist not just all of us who believe in Christ in this world today, as this is just one component of the Church of God. We are the Church Militant, who are still living and walking on this world, fighting constantly and regularly in a spiritual battle against the forces of evil, and resisting all forms of sin, we ought to lead a righteous life, to guard against Satan and to be justified in our faith that we merit salvation.
But our Church also consists of the Church Triumphant, which consists of the holy saints, men and women who had been found worthy to merit the glory of heaven, and yet, as I have mentioned yesterday, and as we celebrated the feast of All Saints yesterday, they are still very much together with us, and they constantly pray for our sake, and being close to the throne of God, they are our intercessors, asking for God to show us His mercy and love.
And lastly, our Church also consists of the Church Suffering, namely the souls of the dead who are still in purgatory, suffering for their sins, on their path to heaven, and yet at the same time, they are again also very much still with us, as even death does not part them from us. They are all aware of their sins and how these sins had prevented them from directly enjoying the fullness of God’s promise and how they had suffered because of that.
Thus, they too are praying for our sake, imploring the Lord to send us reminders and strength, to overcome our evils and wickedness, while we still have time, and not to wait until it is too late for us. As at best, our sins will prevent us from being found worthy of heaven directly, and we will end up in purgatory just as they are now in purgatory, or even at worst, that we may end up falling into the endless pit of hell, without any way or hope of escaping it.
Therefore, on this day, we really should use the opportunity, to pray for our beloved ones, and also for every other souls who have departed this life, that the Lord will show mercy on them. We should ask the saints for their intercession, that they will also pray for the sake of the souls in purgatory, as well as pray for us too, so that all of us may be eventually found worthy by the Lord and escape suffering towards eternal life and salvation, together with them the saints, in the glory of heaven.
Let us commit all of us to prayer, that we pray for all the members of the Church, particularly all of us the Church Militant, fighting constantly against evil of this world, and those in purgatory, the Church Suffering. We should pray for one another and help one another to guard ourselves from wickedness, that God’s promised salvation will bear fruit in us, through our faith, our repentance and our devotion to Him.
Nevertheless, this day of All Souls remind us yet again, and the Scriptures also affirmed that we should have no reason to fear death, or fear the condemnation and suffering of hell at all. That is because, even though because of sin, our disobedience against God, we will die, but we will not die forever. Jesus our Lord Himself had made the ultimate proof, when He died on the cross for us, and then rose in glory and majesty, showing that He had conquered death.
Therefore, even as we remember the dead today, and even as we reflect on the nature and inevitability of death to all of us, we have to always remember and put our complete hope and trust in our Lord Jesus, our Risen Lord and Saviour. Through His death we have also died to our sins and to our past lives, and through His Resurrection we have been brought into a new life, a life that is justified by faith and by our love for God.
That is why the sacrament of Baptism is so important, just as the Scriptures mentioned, that through the waters of baptism, when we are immersed in it, we have been ‘drowned’ unto death, the death from our old lives, filled with sin, impurities and wickedness of our heart and soul, and we have been remade into a clean, pure slate, which the Lord transformed into a new life through His resurrection. We did not remain in death, but we rise with Him in glory, if we choose to follow Him faithfully and devotedly.
Death and sin has no say over us, brothers and sisters in Christ, if we remain faithful to the Lord, and if we put our trust solely in Him alone. The belief in the resurrection is central to our faith, and as long as we believe in this, we shall have the eternal assurance of life and salvation, which our loving God had made through Jesus His Son. The souls in purgatory and limbo also knows this, and they prayed ceaselessly for the end of their suffering, when their sins are made clean, and they once again reunite with their Lord. The Lord had indeed won the final victory over death.
Therefore, brothers and sisters in Christ, on this occasion today, let us first be reminded that the consequences of sin is death, and death is fatal for us, if we do not make the conscious effort to detach us from those sins, then we are in great danger of falling into eternal damnation. Let us not be deceived by our own glory and achievements, for remember that we are all mortals, and eventually whatever we have in this world, will mean nothing if we have not done them in the Name of God.
Let us instead, look upon the examples of the holy saints, who have put their trust in God, and walked in His path. They have abandoned their wicked past, and cast away their old lives of sin, and in return they received the glory of God, and the fullness of divine promise made through Jesus, our Lord. Following the examples of the saints is a foolproof and guaranteed path for us, that we may also become justified in our faith, and therefore be assured in our own salvation.
And lastly, let us never forget those who have gone before us, and those whom we have loved, who have predeceased us, and now who may be in purgatory, seeking to be united in complete fullness with God. We pray for them, and ask the saints for their intercession for the sake of these souls in purgatory and limbo as well, that they may be delivered from the suffering which they now endure for their sins.
May after their sufferings, their sins are cleansed and they may be brought into full and glorious unity with God, and may we one day also be with them, in the glory of heaven. Let us put our trust and faith ever in God, who is Lord of the living and the Judge of all, knowing that if we do so, death will not have its final say on us, and we will receive the fullness of our Lord’s promise of eternal life and happiness.
May all the souls of those departed in the Lord, receive the grace and love of God, rest in peace, the peace of Christ our Lord. And may we all who still walk in this world continue to walk faithfully in the way of our Lord, emulating the examples of the saints, that we all, together as one Church, Church Militant, Church Triumphant, and Church Suffering be one day be reunited fully in God’s glory when He comes again, and may we praise Him for eternity thereafter. Amen.
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