Sunday Bible Reflections by Dr. Scott Hahn
November 2, 2014 – Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (Year A)
When St. Paul talked about the resurrection of the dead with the philosophers at Athens, many laughed and mocked him (Acts 17:32). The Gospel, he would later write, is “foolishness” to the wise of this world (1 Cor. 1:18).
Yet this week’s First Reading tells us that it is foolish to think that the souls of the just are dead. Instead, theirs is a “hope full of immortality.”
By His resurrection, Jesus frees the human race from the fear of death—from the terrible fear of the unknown, of our own disintegration—that holds us in a kind of slavery (see Hebrews 2:14-15).
Because He has walked the dark valley of death before us, because He has promised to walk alongside us, we can take “courage” and “fear no evil,” in the words of this week’s Psalm.
This is God’s will for us, the reason Jesus came into the world, according to Sunday’s Gospel: that we will recognize Jesus as the Son of God, and by believing in Him be raised to eternal life.
If we believe in Him, we will follow Him, as the Psalmist says: He will refresh our souls in the waters of Baptism, anoint our heads with the oil of Confirmation, and set before us the table of the Eucharist.
There our cups will be filled to overflowing. And by these mysteries of His kindness and goodness, we will “dwell in the house of the Lord” in this life and in the life to come.
The First Reading seems to allude to the doctrine of Purgatory, to the souls of the just being chastised, purified as gold in a furnace and made worthy of God (see 1 Cor. 3:11–12). This reading also tells us of the glory of the saints, who will share in the rule of Christ, judging and ruling over the nations (see Luke 22:30). Through the “newness of life” we have in the sacraments, this week’s Epistle adds, we “grow into union with Him,” confident that we will be “united with Him in the Resurrection.”