Today is Monday the 2 November, the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed, the feast of All Souls.
The nuns of St Cecilia’s Abbey sing Domine Jesu Christe from the Requiem Mass. ‘Lord Jesus Christ, King of glory, free the souls of all the faithful departed. Free them from the pains of hell. Free them from the deep pit. Free them from the lion’s mouth… Make them pass from death to life.’ As I listen, I may want to pray too for the people I have known who have died, or perhaps to contemplate in these moments the ultimate hope that God offers me, of freedom from all the things that threaten and trouble me, the promise God makes me of eternal life.
Today is the feast of All Souls, when the Church remembers those who have died, and are preparing to enjoy the fullness of life with God forever. We believe that our prayers can help them with this preparation. This passage from Isaiah offers a vivid image of what they are waiting for.
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-matured wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-matured wines strained clear.And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations;he will swallow up death for ever.Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Even though it’s described as taking place on a mountain, it’s no picnic being promised here. It’s a feast! Well-cooked food and fine wine. What’s your first response to this promise made by God?
The promise is all the more surprising in context. The people who hear it are disgraced and weeping. A shroud covers them, and death threatens them. Where do you see this kind of situation, in your own life or in the world around you?
The people have been waiting for God’s help. The banquet is a sign that that help has finally arrived. What would that feel like?
As the passage is read again, listen out for all the different things that “the Lord of Hosts” is intending to do.
The people who first heard these words ended up expressing their gladness and joy to the Lord. Maybe you can join them with whatever in God’s plans and promises makes you joyful.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.