All Souls Day
The Rev. Leonard B. Oakes
October 30, 2011
Knowing where the most visited place by her family, a dying mother told her children: “When I die, I would like my body cremated, and have my ashes scattered all over the mall.” When asked why, she answered: “In that way, I will be assured that you will remember me and visit me once in a while.”
Today is a day for remembering, and for those who can, this is a day for visiting the resting place of our departed loved ones.
What do you remember when All Souls day come or any day for that matter? Have you had a chance to light a candle or offer a flower at your loved ones grave? Have you said a prayer of thanks for all the things they have shared to you while they were living?
What and who do you remember on all souls day?
I remember going to the cemetery a week before All Souls Day to weed out the grass covering the graveyard of my father and brother. My brothers and I repaint the tomb and
reprint their names in bold black ink while my sisters and mom plant flowers around the grave. At the end of the day, I would look around the rest of the tomb in the cemetery, I noticed that there are foods offered like: sinuman, adobo at lechon; Believe me, there were pasta. I didn’t find any vegetables. I guess most foods were associated with the cause of their death. There were drinks to like: Ginebra, San Miguel beer, and Marlboro pack at the head of the grave. Someone told me the next day that those foods, drinks and cigarettes were gone. They must have been consumed by the spirits of the dead or the living?
It reminded me of what was told that in some other culture, like those among the tribes of Ghana. There is a belief that a man lives after death. This is clearly demonstrated by tying some money to the cloth of the dead person or in a handkerchief and placed in the coffin beside the person. The money is believed to assist the dead to buy water on its way to the land beyond or to pay the ferryman at a river which divides this world from that of the dead.
I continued to wonder why others would bury their loved ones with gun and bullets next to their dead body. Is it to defend them against the angels of hell?
I said to myself, ah, whatever it is that they do, let me sit down with my family and
share the good memories we had with our father and other members of the family
who passed away and reflect upon life and how we support each other while we have it. Offer thanksgiving to God for giving us hope of the resurrection and His love that carries us through in this life.
You may have the same experience. Some of you remember the wonderful time you had with your child who brought joy and love to your life. For whatever reasons, that child
had to be taken away from you to be with the next level of life, there where one day you will be reunited with them. You yearn for their bodily presence, to hear their laughter, to see them run, to touch again those little hands.
Some of you remember your mother or father or guardian, who shed light to who you are now. Who sacrificed everything just so you can reach your dreams. Remember when they made you laugh? When they bought you the most expensive dress or clothes you have been praying to wear? You found out later that she bought it at Ross. Remember when your mom reminded you to always wear socks without a hole on them just in case an accident happens and you won’t be embarrassed? Do you remember when they were there with you at the ball game? It hurts now that they aren’t there to cheer, to offer a hug, or to look us straight in the eyes and tell us, “You’re doing the right thing” Their death leaves a hole in our hearts.
What about your best friend who suffered the painful experience of Cancer? Or a friend so young who had a car accident that led to death? All of these my friends will lead us to pause for a moment to reflect that life is fragile and precious and that we do not own it. It can be taken away from us any moment. Death reminds us that we are mortal and we cannot escape the sting of death. But thanks be to God through His Son Jesus Christ who came to save us from our human sinfulness and once again restored us to an everlasting life with God. For God so loved us so much that he sent His only Son to save us and inherit eternal life. Death is no longer the end of everything for after death is life with God where there will be no more pain, neither sighing but life everlasting. The Love of God bought us all to salvation through His Son Jesus Christ.
It is therefore that same love that we light a candle and offer a flower at the grave of our love ones. For love is why we came here in the first place. We reflect upon the love these wonderful people shared while they were living. We never cease to remember until that time comes when we meet our maker and finally meet our love ones once again. Then there my friends our love will be complete. It is there that life we have been promised is
All Souls Day is a timely reminder for all of us that, sooner or later, we all will die. Yes, the journey will come to an end someday. Just when, is not for us to say. What matters is, not the miles behind, nor the wealth in our hands, but the love and the peace we carry in our hearts.
For those who are so focused on image, it would be good for you to reflect today on what will people say about you after you die? For those who are surrounded by cheer leaders, entertainers and jesters, remember, too, that your so-called staff and entourage will not be there for you once your power and money are gone. The bottom line is: What will God tell you when you finally come face-to-face with Him? For those of you who are unhappy with life because of gossips and arrogance, life is so short, turn around and embrace happiness by doing good deeds with yourself and your neighbor.
In our earthly journey we encounter all sorts of people. Some are sinners. Some are saints. Many of us are not big-time sinners and definitely not saints. What should keep us humble and hopeful is the thought that there is no sinner without a future, and that there is no sinner without a past. All Souls Day should remind us that we have a soul. All Saints Day should remind us that we are all called to holiness, and that we all are potential saints.
Some storms exit fast. Some storms linger on. One thing sure is, storms end. Another thing that’s sure, too: Whatever kind of life you are living, it will end. Enjoy life now, or invest in eternity, which is waiting. It’s your call. It’s your choice.
Let me end with a lyrics of All Souls Hymn written by Canon Jagger:
“We light a tender candle as fragile as a friend,
A flame against the darkness, a love without end;
And pray his resurrection, unquenchable will blaze,
Sustaining human frailty, in Love’s eternal gaze.”