We are now at the cemetery to visit our loved ones. In these graves that surround us now rest our loved ones who loved, cared for, and cherished us. That’s why we visit them to show our love for them.
Many philosophers say: “Why bring flowers that can’t smell them? Why bring food that can’t be eaten? Why still light a candle that cannot be seen?”
Because they are alive. Because we are alive, they will see, they will feel, they will know we are here today.
When I was a kid I used to go to the cemetery with my Mom. On the other side whispering to my little brother Nador.
He died at just one year old. Every time we visit, I ask my Mom, “Where is Nador, Ma?”
“Old sky. She became an angel with the Lord,” she replied. At that age, Nador feels so alive. He just became an angel.
When I learned a little theology, I realized that we can never be angels. But truly, in the afterlife, we will be with God in the company of the saints.
In the understanding of Filipinos, there is no difference between “All Saints’ Day” and “All Souls’ Day”. They are all in heaven, with God and the saints.
Our reading for the day said, “Blessed are they”. Blessed are they who trust no one but God.
Blessed are those who mourn, for God makes them happy. Blessed are they to be meek.
Blessed are the merciful, pure in heart, who make peace with mankind, who are persecuted and ridiculed, persecuted when they keep God’s commands.
“Rejoice, for your reward is great” in the kingdom of God (Mt. 5:3-12).
If we turn their lives back, they’re the ones who felt these words of God. In our times of loss, they are those we rely on no one else but God.
In times of pain, they were those who stood to mourn with us. In times of need, they are the ones who give to others in need despite our poverty.
In times of chaos, they are the ones who intercede so we can enjoy peace. Others are left behind, laughed at, but they continue to carve his kingdom.
“Go then,” said the Lord, “for that is how they treat the prophets. ”
They are not dead yet. “They are alive and saints”.
And even though we are alive today, if we obey his words — to trust in him, to be faithful to the weak, to seek a way of peace, to preach his kingdom — we too are “living saints.”
Because we belong to the “society of saints” (communion of saints), the word we utter in the Apostle’s Creed in our worship every Sunday: “I believe in… Society of the Saints, of the resurrection of the body, and eternal life.”
Father Daniel Franklin Pilario, C.M., is a theologian, professor, and pastor of an urban poor community on the outskirts of the Philippine capital. He is also Vincentian Chair for Social Justice at St. John’s University in New York. The opinions and views expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of LiCAS News or its publishers.