The Feast of All Souls (A) 2017

When and where I grew up, All Souls Day was inextricably linked with a place called Purgatory.
Purgatory projected one image only; all our deceased relatives, friends and acquaintances crying out to me for release from the agony of the fires of Purgatory, which was said to be the same as Hell but of shorter duration. I, through prayer, fasting and almsgiving could shorten their period in Purgatory. Causing myself to suffer for their sake was said to be particularly efficacious.
If people were lucky enough to escape the eternal fires of Hell they, almost in every case, had to do long stints in the fires of Purgatory to be cleansed of their guilt. Depending on their sinfulness, this period in Purgatory could be from mere days to many years.
All the above was aimed at coercing people into obeying the church through the fear of punishment. There is no evidence for such teaching. It is an invention of misguided teachers.
If God could do the above then I want absolutely nothing to do with such a God.
That is why, up to now, and only at the request of parishioners, have I agreed to celebrate All Souls Day as a separate event. For me All Souls today and All Saints, yesterday, is about one and the very same people.
To quote Jesus of Nazareth; ’And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.’
And again on the Cross to one of the murdering thieves; ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.’ Today, not tomorrow or next week or next year. Nothing about time spent in Purgatory for cleansing from past sins. ‘Today you will be with me in paradise.’ It was now 3.00pm and the Jewish day ended at 6.00pm.
Today I agree to celebrate All Souls day not so that I can help them but to remember them and to rejoice that they are with God and can help me.
To even suggest that my God is anything like what I was brought up to believe is insulting to my God and insulting to me, a son of God.
So today we fondly remember all our deceased relatives, friends and fellow parishioners. We thank them for the privilege of having known them. For the help they gave us. And having completer their lives here on earth and received the gift of Eternal Life with our God, we congratulate them and ask for their help in our journey through this life.
Finally we look forward to meeting them again in Eternal Life where everything will be known, understood and forgiven.