Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sunday Thought: Praying for Dead People

One of the more common Roman Catholic practices that mystifies many people is that we often pray for dead people.  They ask, "Why?  It cannot help them.  They are dead.  Their trial, their test is done."

Luke Chapter 20

27 Some Sadducees,  those who deny that there is a resurrection, came forward and put this question to him:...23 Jesus said to them, “The children of this age marry and are given in marriage; 35 but those who are deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead <snip> 36 They can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.  37 That the dead will rise even Moses made known in the passage about the bush, when he called ‘Lord’ the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob;  38 and He is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.”  (bold added by ERJ.  NAB translation)
As humans it is easy for us to project our limitations on God.  But God has no limits.

Humans are trapped in time.  We can only crawl along in one direction, like an ant crawling along a stretched thread.  In fact, we have even less freedom than the ant, we do not choose our speed nor can we reverse our direction.

But God can move freely to any place along that thread.  He can cut it, knot it, unknot it, knit it into a Tee shirt, ball it up in his fist or burn it.

Think of a sand castle.  As humans we can modify any tower or feature, regardless of whether it is the feature we are currently making or whether it was the first feature we made.  So it is with God.  He created time.  He can do anything he wants with it.  He is not trapped within it.  He is not immobilized like a mosquito in amber.

Psalm 91

9 Because you have the LORD for your refuge
and have made the Most High your stronghold,
10 No evil shall befall you,
no affliction come near your tent.
11 For he commands his angels with regard to you,
to guard you wherever you go.
12 With their hands they shall support you,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You can tread upon the asp and the viper,
trample the lion and the dragon.

How many times today did an angel stand between us and the cup of temptation?  How many times today did the wolf drive down our street and not see our home?  How many times did the wolf walk past us or one of our loved ones, perhaps so closely that our sleeves brushed....and the wolf did not see us because an angel stood between us?

Even as the principle in our life's story we remain oblivious to most of the help we received.  It is a logical trap to assume that something cannot exist if we do not understand it.  But trust me, your body's immune system exists and nobody fully understands it.  And I believe that prayers activate our spiritual immune system.

As Catholic-Christians, we pray that God be quick to send angels to guard us...for both the living and the support and protect us in our times of need.  We pray that we be shielded from temptation and from evil. We pray that God be generous with the gifts of wisdom and strength and compassion, for both the living and the dead.. 

The results of our prayers will remain a mystery until we can see God face-to-face.  We must act on faith.

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