Gospel: Mt 25:31-46
When the Son of Man comes in his glory with all his angels, he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be brought before him; and, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, so will he do with them, placing the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left.
The king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, blessed of my Father! Take possession of the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you welcomed me into your home. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to see me.’
Then the righteous will ask him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and give you food; thirsty, and give you something to drink; or a stranger, and welcome you; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and go to see you?’ The king will answer, ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did it for one of the least of these brothers or sisters of mine, you did it to me.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Go, cursed people, out of my sight, into the eternal fire, which has been prepared for the devil and his angels! For I was hungry, and you did not give me anything to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not welcome me into your house; I was naked, and you did not clothe me; I was sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’
They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, thirsty, naked or a stranger, sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ The king will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you: just as you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for me.’
And these will go into eternal punishment; but the just, to eternal life.”
Today we are praying in a special way for all those human beings whose eternal reunion with God is already assured, but who are not quite ready yet for that searing proximity with Infinite Love. Since they died with residues of selfishness in their souls, they would not feel fully attuned to God while in that state of theirs. Hence the need to purify those remnants of self-centered love. We call that temporary stage of purification the Purgatory. But we do not know how exactly such a purification is done in them. All we know is that, like any giving up of our selfishness, that purification of theirs must be painful. Consequently, today we implore God to alleviate or shorten that purification. This is the meaning of this special day of prayers for the departed souls.
Our Protestant brethren do not believe in the existence of Purgatory. If they challenge you on this most ancient belief of ours, you could quote the saying of Jesus about the sin against the Holy Spirit which will not be forgiven “either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt 12:32). This seems to imply that some sins are forgiven in the next life, doesn’t it?