My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
Today is a great day of hope for us and I’m happy that we are gathered together for the celebration of Holy Mass on this commemoration of All Souls.
I’m glad that you have your umbrellas because it is a little sunny today — beautiful Los Angeles day.
So today, as I said, it’s a great day of hope for us as we commemorate All Souls, the faithful departed. This is a celebration of the Day of the Dead, but that means it is also a celebration of the Day of the Living.
Today we celebrate the beautiful promise of our Christian faith — that our God is not the God of the dead. Our God is the God of the living!
Our God gives life — and he takes life away. But our God gives us life again — for all eternity!
The beautiful truth is that God does not want to lose any one of us. He made us out of love and he made us for himself. And he wants everyone to find salvation and eternal life in Jesus Christ.
Jesus tells us in the Gospel today:
And this is the will of the one who sent me,
that I should not lose anything of what he gave me …
For this is the will of my Father,
that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him
may have eternal life,
and I shall raise him on the last day.
This our hope as Christians!
As Christians, we are “realists” about death. Death will come — just as surely as we are alive. We know this. We are born to die. But for us death is not the end. Death is new beginning.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux said on her deathbed: “I am not dying, I am entering life."2
And it is true. When we celebrate the feast days of saints, as we know, we do not celebrate their birth days. We celebrate the day they died — they day they were born into eternal life.
This beautiful that we are celebrating this Mass here — in this place where we remember our loved ones who have died and gone before us.
In offering this Eucharist in remembrance of the dead, we continue the practice begun by the first Christians.
Praying in this place today, we feel close to the dead, especially to our beloved ones in our own families. We know that death can never keep us apart — that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
In the Communion of Saints, there is a solidarity of love between the living and the dead.
And as we remember the dead today, we are also asking them to pray for us. And we pray for the living — that we might grow in holiness and love so that one day we will be reunited with them and rejoice forever in the banquet of the heavenly table.
So this Eucharist we offer today reminds us that Heaven is our true homeland, that we are only passing through this world.
It’s interesting, and probably you know this, but the word “cemetery” means “sleep” or “rest.” Our loved ones — are only sleeping here. They are only resting on their journey to the Resurrection and the fullness of life.
And today’s first reading from the Book of Wisdom, reminds us: “Yet is their hope full of immortality.”
We all remember the story in the Gospel — of the father who came to Jesus after his daughter had died. When Jesus entered the man’s house, he said: “The girl is not dead but sleeping.” Then Jesus took the girl by the hand and raised her up.
This is the hope that we have for our loved ones. This is the hope that we have for ourselves.
If we follow Jesus in this life — if we take his hand and live according to his plan of love — then he will raise us up when we fall asleep.
Jesus lived and died, and rose again. So, if we die with Jesus, we will rise with him, to live forever in his Kingdom of life and peace.
This is our hope, my dear brothers and sisters. And St. Paul tells us in today’s second reading: “Our hope does not disappoint!”
Our hope does not disappoint because our hope is founded in the love of God. St. Paul tells us today:
But God proves his love for us
in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.
So my dear brothers and sisters, today is a day for us to reflect on God’s great love for us. It is truly amazing to think about how much God loves each one of us. So much — that he is willing to die for us, so we might live forever with him.
And the Scriptures tell us that Heaven is the “love that never ends."3 It is a love that begins for each one of us here on earth — God loves each one of us — but that’s a love that will stay with us for eternity. Incredible, again.
One of the saints said, “All the way to heaven is heaven because Jesus said, ‘I am the way.’”
Heaven for us begins when we meet Jesus and begin to follow him. When we feel his love and his tender mercy; when we begin to trust in his will for our lives.
And we can follow Jesus to Heaven if we follow in his footsteps here on earth. That means we need to live like Jesus lived— according to his Word and his example. We need to live by his law of love. We need to conform our lives to his — to become holy as he is holy.
For today is a great opportunity for each one of us, as we think of faithful departed to renew our commitment to loving God and loving one another. And setting the goal of our life in going to heaven.
So this memorial today calls us to use our time on this earth wisely. We need to stay faithful to God’s plan for our lives. We need to keep the right priorities — spend our time on things that truly matter. On our relationships. On serving God and our brothers and sisters in love.
St. John of the Cross said: “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.” Love is what will bring us happiness, and love is the measure of our lives.
So on this beautiful memorial, in the presence of our loved ones — let us dedicate ourselves again today to love.
Let us keep walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, our eyes fixed on the horizon — where we can see Heaven. We are not walking through the valley of this life — alone. We go in the company of the great cloud of witnesses — all our loved ones and all the saints who have gone before us.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary — Mother of Mercy and Queen of Saints — go with us. And at the hour of our death, may she lead us to see our Redeemer face-to-face in the Kingdom of Heaven.
1. Readings (Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed): Wis. 3:1-9; Ps. 23:1-6; Rom. 5:5-11; John 6:37-40.
2. Catechism, 1011.
3. 1 Cor. 13:8; Catechism, 25, 773.