All Souls Day Preparing the Readings

Sunday Connection

Sunday Connection

God speaks to us in many ways, including through the Sunday Scripture readings. The Sunday Connection provides useful background and activities to better understand the upcoming Sunday's Scripture readings, helping you to connect the Scripture to daily life in a meaningful way.


The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls' Day)

Thursday, November 2, 2017


This Days Readings


First Reading
Wisdom 3:1-9 or Wisdom 4:7-15 or Isaiah 25:6-9

Responsorial Psalm
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

Second Reading
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

Gospel Reading
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. 


Gospel Reading
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.


 

Making the Connection (Grades 1, 2, and 3)

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Ask the group: How do people feel when someone dies? Why? (Accept all reasonable answers.) What are some things that people can do to help someone who is sad because someone they love has died? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  2. Say: We are often sad when someone dies, because we will miss this person. We are sad for ourselves, not for the person who died, because Jesus promised something wonderful for all those who die with faith in him.

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, we hear Jesus comfort his friend Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, has just died. Let's listen carefully to what Jesus says to Martha. In his words, we hear about the wonderful thing that Jesus promises to all of us.

  4. Read aloud today's Gospel, John 11:17-27.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus say to comfort Martha? (that Lazarus will rise again) Does Martha believe this? (yes) What else does Jesus promise? (that whoever believes in him will have eternal life; that Jesus is the Resurrection and the life)

  6. Say: Jesus promises us that we will live with God forever if we have faith in him. This promise about eternal life makes us hopeful about death. We pray for those who have died to help them in their journey to eternal life with God in heaven. Today, November 2, is called All Souls Day. It is a special day for praying for all those who have died.

  7. Conclude in prayer together for those who have died. Invite the children to say the names of people they know who have died. After each name, pray “Lord, have mercy.”

 


Gospel Reading
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.


 

Making the Connection (Grades 4, 5, and 6)

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Say: Today is the Feast of All Souls. On this day, we remember those who have died, and we pray that they will soon be with God in heaven. Through the Communion of Saints, we are connected to all those who have died, to the souls in Purgatory, and to the saints in heaven. We pray with hope today because of Jesus' promise of eternal life.

  2. Say: Before we hear about Jesus' promise of eternal life in today's Gospel, let's talk about what we believe about death and eternal life. Ask: What are some things that we say to comfort people who have recently experienced the death of a loved one? What do these things tell us about what we hope for after death? What do they tell us about what we believe about eternal life? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  3. Say: In today's Gospel, Jesus consoles his friend Martha, whose brother, Lazarus, has recently died. Let's listen to what Jesus promised her about eternal life.

  4. Invite one or more volunteers to read aloud John 11:17-27.

  5. Ask: What does Jesus say to console Martha? (that Lazarus will rise) Does Martha believe this? (yes) What else does Jesus promise? (that whoever believes in him will have eternal life; that Jesus is himself the Resurrection and the life) What messages from this Gospel might console someone who was mourning the death of a loved one? (Accept all reasonable answers.)

  6. Say: Martha responds to Jesus by professing her faith that Jesus can and will do everything that he says. This is the faith we share. We base our faith and hope in Jesus' promise of eternal life. We pray confidently that those who die will share Jesus' promise of eternal life with God in heaven.

  7. Conclude in prayer together, inviting the group to pray particularly for people they know who have died. Pray together the Act of Hope.


Gospel Reading
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.


Making the Connection (Grades 7 and 8)

Young people are full of hope and have so much to look forward to. The feast of All Souls teaches us that our hope is not confined to this life but is grounded in our belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Materials Needed

  • None

Preparation for Sunday Scripture Readings

  1. Tell the young people that as followers of Jesus, we are called to be people of hope.

  2. Divide the young people into two groups: the glass-half-empty group and the glass-half-full group.

  3. Have the glass-half-empty group brainstorm a list of negative things happening in the world today, while the glass-half-full group brainstorms a list of positive things.

  4. Invite each group share its list.

  5. Explain that the opposite of hope is despair. Despair looks only at the negative side, but hope recognizes both sides—negative and positive—as real and believes that the positive can overcome the negative.

  6. Say: On the feast of All Souls, we are reminded that our hope is based on our belief in the resurrection of the dead.

  7. Invite volunteers to read aloud John 11:17-27.

  8. Say: Martha responds to Jesus by professing her faith that Jesus can and will do all that he says. This is the faith that we share. We base our faith and hope in Jesus' promise of eternal life. We pray confidently that those who die will share Jesus' promise of eternal life with God in heaven.

  9. Conclude in prayer together, inviting the group to pray for people they know who have died. Pray together the Act of Hope.


Gospel Reading
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.


Family Connection

In Jesus' conversation with Martha, we learn that we can face death with hope because Jesus promises eternal life for all those who believe in him. In his death and Resurrection, Jesus has conquered death once and for all. In the Communion of the Saints, we continue to share a relationship with all those who have died. The saints in heaven intercede for us before God. We pray for the souls of the faithful departed. Our prayers for them help speed their journey to full communion with the saints in heaven. We praise God for this tremendous gift of our faith.

As you gather as a family, remember the names of family members or friends who have died. Talk about these people, sharing memories of their lives and their influence on your family. Recall that today is All Souls Day. On this day we remember all those who have died, and we pray for them. Read today's Gospel, John 11:17-27, in which we hear Jesus console his friend Martha after her brother's death. Talk about Jesus' promise of eternal life and our hope of eternal life for all those who have died. Conclude by praying for all those who have died, naming in particular family members and friends. After each person is named, pray together “Lord, have mercy.” Pray together the Act of Hope.