All Souls’ Day
By Ken Asel
A Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 13:44-52
44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; 46 on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.
47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; 48 when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
51 “Have you understood all this?” They answered, “Yes.” 52 And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”
El Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an important day in the lives of most Latinx. According to legend, families on All Souls’ Day briefly welcome home departed relatives. It is a Mesoamerican ritual, also including Spanish gifts of food and drink, displaying gratitude for remembering the ones they have held dear. A recent film, Coco, tells this story by way of music and song and imagination.
The three-day observance of Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls remind all who listen of both the fragility of life and the generosity of our Savior who welcomes us all home at the end of our lives. As we would read aloud the names of the departed in the parishes I served over my years as a priest, I rarely got far before tears began to flow. Unlike All Saints, which at its heart, is a festival of gratitude for the great witnesses of the saints of light, All Souls’ Day is an occasion to pray for all those whom we love, yet see no longer. We pray for the time when Christ will welcome them home and recall again moments that have touched our lives.
All Hallows, All Saints, All Souls: three related yet interwoven days, Christian holy days that are somehow one celebration of life lived and life yet to come.
I pray you will have the blessing of being consoled and sure about your death…
As your eyes focus on each face,
May your soul take its imprint,
Drawing each image within
As companions for the journey.
May you find for each one you love
A different locket of jeweled words
To be worn around the heart,
To warm your absence. …
May there be some beautiful surprise
Waiting for you inside death.
(from To Bless the Space Between Us, John O’Donohue)
(The Reverend) J. Kenneth Asel, D.Min. is a retired priest from the Diocese of Wyoming. Devvie and he have been married for 30 years and reside on the Front Range.
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Today we pray for:
St. George’s Church, Dayton, Ohio
The Diocese of Haiti