Wis 3:1-9 / Rom 5:5-11 / Jn 6:37-40
Sooner or later most of us have the experience of watching a loved one move through his or her final days and then pass from this earth. It can be a tremendously sad process for those who are about to be left behind and who know in advance the loneliness that will be theirs. But in most cases there’s a marvelous and touching aspect of the process as well, and that is watching our dying friend progressively letting go of all sorts of things that don’t count, old baggage in the form of grievances, fears, doubts, and so much more. It’s a grace for the bystanders to watch that happen, and it presses us to let go of our own baggage sooner rather than later.
Yet, even the best of us, even the saints, leave this life with at least a little bit of unfinished business and a bit of left over baggage. And that’s why we Catholics pray for the dead. Our prayers are not aimed at changing God’s mind about our departed friends. God’s mind doesn’t need any changing. His love for us is unchanging, and he’s always ready and waiting to welcome home even the worst of us.
No, our prayers are for the deceased themselves, that they will relax in the Lord and let the Lord help them let go of what remains of their old baggage, and help them finish what is unfinished in them. For those whose hearts are loving and trusting of the Lord, it will come naturally to open their hearts and let the Lord in. For those of us whose hearts are more ambivalent and in the habit of withholding trust, the work will be more difficult.
So hold in prayer all the deceased whom you love, and look to your own heart, that it may be open and welcoming to each of God’s people now. This day and every day are dress rehearsals for that final day when you will give back your heart to the One who gave it to you.
May your heart be true and open and ready this day and always.