Wisdom 3:1-9 or Wisdom 4:7-15 or Isaiah 25:6-9
Psalm 23:1-3a,3b-4,5,6 or Psalm 25:6,7b,17-18,20-21 or Psalm 27:1,4,7,8b,9a,13-14
Romans 5:5-11 or Romans 5:17-21 or Romans 6:3-9 or
Romans 8:14-23 or Romans 8:31b-35,37-39 or Romans 14:7-9,10c-12 or
1 Corinthians 15:20-28 or 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 or 2 Corinthians 4:14-5:1 or
2 Corinthians 5:1,6-10 or Philippians 3:20-21or 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 or 2 Timothy 2:8-13
Matthew 5:1-12a or Matthew 11:25-30 or Matthew 25:31-46 or
Luke 7:11-17 or Luke 23:44-46,50,52-53;24:1-6a or Luke 24:13-16,28-35; John 5:24-29 or
John 6:37-40 or John 6:51-59 or John 11:17-27 or John 11:32-45 or John 14:1-6
The readings for the Liturgy of the Word on the Feast of All Souls can be selected from among the above or chosen from among those given for the Masses for the Dead. This reflection is based on John 11:17-27: Jesus consoles Martha at the death of her brother, Lazarus, and declares that he is the Resurrection and the life.
Background on the Gospel Reading
On the Feast of All Souls, we pray for the souls of all those who have died. There are many choices of readings for this day, all focusing on our belief in the resurrection of the dead and Jesus' promise of eternal life. The Gospel story of the raising of Lazarus offers us many important insights about this aspect of our faith.
Jesus was good friends with Lazarus and his sisters, Martha and Mary. Lazarus had fallen ill, and Martha and Mary had sent word to Jesus. Jesus delays his journey to them, however, and when he arrives in Bethany, he finds that Lazarus is dead and has been buried for four days.
The scene described at Bethany is a sad one; Lazarus and his family have many friends who have come to mourn his death. Martha goes out to meet Jesus when he arrives. She cries with him, saying that if Jesus had been there, Lazarus would not have died. Yet she remains confident that God will do whatever Jesus asks. Jesus consoles her with the promise that Lazarus would rise from the dead. Martha affirms her belief that there will be resurrection of the dead in the last days. Jesus promises her even more; he says that he himself is the Resurrection and the life for all those who believe in him. Martha professes her faith in this, acknowledging that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God.
This is the profession of faith we continue to make, and it is the promise on which we base our hope for eternal life for ourselves and for all those who have died. In his death and Resurrection, Jesus has conquered death for all those who believe in him.
We believe that we continue to share a relationship with those who have died. When we pray for the souls of the faithful departed, we are praying for those whose souls are journeying through purgatory, being prepared for eternal life in heaven. We believe that our prayers for them will help to speed their journey to eternal life with God in heaven.