“..see here is the place where they laid him..” Mary Magdalen, bereft at death of her beloved Jesus, went to the tomb to grieve to weep & to pray..she expected nothing else..she found stone had been rolled away, & a young man explained significance of the empty tomb.. we have gathered here in Mary Magdalens footsteps & with a heart of sadness remorse for our own infidelities inappropriate behaviour..to grieve weep & pray for our beloved brothers & sisters who have died & who may well be still on the journey to Heaven.. the Church suffering.. with our prayers uniting us with them, a common unity in a shared journey towards the moment when we will be reunited fully & for all time.. ..there are no goats in Purgatory..only sheep..beloved sheep grazing on good pasture which will eventually find them finding their real full selves in full presence of God.. a journey of self realisation..
for the times we wallow in low self esteem, grief at the thought of a loved one as a lost sheep, indoctrinated into a frightening possibility of a day of judgement instead of the welcome home of a lifetime, let us ask for Our Lords mercy gentleness & compassion..
“my God my God why have you deserted me” & my loved ones.. ; Lord have mercy “there is no need for alarm..you are looking for Jesus..” ; Christ have mercy “he is not here, he has risen..” ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“I believe that I shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living“..a call into special relationship for a particular group of us..those who struggler to believe..those who get it wrong; the ones who are always early victims in a life & religion of competition where comparison is second nature & the sheep welcomed whilst goats discarded..sadly a two directional mentality which spirituality rather than religion tries to address..where faith struggles to give birth to belief whereas duty struggles to comply & to do the right thing.. particularly today..as we meet the Church suffering still struggling after a lifetime to fully believe, as we trek on alongside Jesus in our life pray & work of militancy..& Jesus sees then & now, those who mourn over the loss of a loved one, & he pauses, halts to show his solidarity in grief with them & now with us ”there is no need for alarm..you are looking for Jesus”..in person not in practice..” coincidence or work of Holy Spirit I begin retreat for staff from St Bedes/ St Josephs Bradford this evening..some time ago one of their Yr11 retreatants asked me one of most searching questions I’ve ever had.. “do you think there is an unforgivable sin?”..instead of usual 3 min responses to whole range of questions, I held this one in what we call car park..we park it up to take at a later session in retreat, where we can give it time depth & discussion needed to attempt to find an answer..key is to find an answer not produce one out of theology book or catechism.. such real faith questions merit real live faith answers..next day we’d 45mins to work on it together..we opened an image of heaven hell & purgatory..if God is love..total pure love.. & a person dies & meets God face to face 15secs after death & is 100% good, pure love, where does he go?..immediately into Gods arms [heaven] for everlasting life..if a person dies with 1% badness on his soul where does he go?..heaven perhaps, with just a speck of imperfection?..no..the 1% evil on him precludes him from the all loving merciful arms of God ..a contradiction in terms to think God could be subject to even a speck of badness.. so those individual life choices when he has misused greatest gift God has given him, second only to gift of life..free will..when he chose what was unworthy of love of his best self & of his God..has put up a barrier a glass screen between him & God..he sees God through the glass, God’s arms wide open in a wonderful expression of welcome into his divine life, yet he is prevented from getting there for time being..he is like a wasp up against a pane of glass, desperate to get out into the sunlight again, its nose up against glass unable to get through it..purgatory..& eventually when that pain of separation of seeing God, love personified, & not being able to get there, skims off the 1% badness, the glass shatters & we are united into loving arms of God in heaven.. someone with just 1% of goodness in them 99% badness goes to hell?..or purgatory?..1% of goodness in them, slightest speck of love in them, saves them from hell..their glass much thicker, so much longer in purgatory, yet knowing in faith eventually it will shatter..so then to my Yr 11 boys, what is hell?..to be in held in same state as those in purgatory..to look on face of divine love & his ever open arms of welcome & what?..to know that glass screen will never ever shatter..hell is to look on the face of God & know that for eternity you will have to look on face of one person who offered the two greatest gifts..life & free will..& you rejected both..very few individuals totally reject a semblance of belief in God..so finally to my Yr 11 disciples; I put their question to me back to them “do you think there is an unforgivable sin?”they answered their own question..”..to refuse to believe in God” ..two groups of us here & now..some of us with Jesus on a journey of militancy..others here to grieve alongside our loved ones..”there is no need for alarm”..two gospel stories one 2000yrs ago the other 2yrs ago from Bradford..each with very good news..God never ever writes off anyone..however, if an individual, a very rare individual decides to reject God & divine love, then they self sentence / self harm in realising all too late that their rejection & unbelief was to prove fatal..so we pray today with & for the Church suffering ..our beloved loved ones still on their journey of pilgrimage in purgatory, with the ultimate consolation in faith knowing they are destined for kingdom of heaven..we have his word for it..a Word which became flesh, to reveal to us just how loved precious & needed we & our loved ones are..keep praying..as they do for us..the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, & life everlasting. Amen. [ All Souls Yr B Mk 15.33-16.6]