Sunday XXXII of Ordinary Time

by Reverend Vijaya Yemparala  |  11/19/2023  |  From the Clergy

As the current liturgical year approaches its end this month, it is timely and salutary that we learn the correct answer to the inevitable question confronting every human person on earth ‘where do human persons go after death?’

What is your answer to this question?

In general, how do human persons of various categories grapple with this inevitable question that catches up with them day after day?

We in the Catholic Church are very fortunate persons because God answers this question for us in a historical manner through the human life of His Son our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus says: In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am there you may be also (Jn.14:2-3).’ Again, ‘do not fear those who kill the body and after that can do no more. Fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell (Lk.12:4-5).’ ‘If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and cast it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell (Mt.5:30).’ Thus, the living God Who brought us into existence as human persons in our mother’s womb is telling every human person on earth and to us in particular that every human person on earth, after the death of his or her human body, is either welcomed by Him to join the community (called heaven) of all those who have proven their belongingness to Him during their life, or condemned to join the community (called hell) of all those who have chosen to be indifferent to Him and demonstrated their unrepentant belongingness to the Devil. ‘Enter through the narrow gate’ says our Lord; ‘for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it. (Mt.7:13).’ May we be among these blessed ‘few’ when we arrive finally at Death’s door.

During this month, the church teaches us to pray for the souls in purgatory.

The Church’s teaching: The Church’s official teaching on Purgatory is plain and simple. There is a place or state of purification called Purgatory, where souls undergoing purification can be helped by the prayers of the faithful (Council of Trent). Some modern theologians suggest that the fire of Purgatory is an intense, transforming encounter with Jesus Christ and his fire of love. They also speak of Purgatory as an “instant” purification immediately after death, varying in intensity from soul to soul, depending on the state of each individual.

How do we help the “holy souls”? The Catechism of the Catholic Church recommends prayer for the dead in conjunction with the offering of the Eucharistic Sacrifice and also encourages “almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead” (CCC #1032). Let us not forget to pray for our dear departed, have Masses offered for them, visit their graves, and make daily sacrifices for them.

-Rev. Vijaya