For the Church, the month of November begins with two beautiful feasts of remembrance and hope — All Saints and All Souls.
Throughout this month, the Church calls Catholics to raise our hearts and minds to seek the things that are above — to remember that going to heaven is the goal that God desires for each of our lives.
Jesus told us that our God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living.
God is not the author of death. He desires only life for his children. Death entered the world through human sinfulness. But death no longer has to be the final word in anyone’s life. Because Jesus Christ has conquered sin and destroyed death.
God’s love is stronger than death.
Jesus said our heavenly Father’s will is that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life and be raised up on the Last Day.
So, for Christians, death is not the enemy of life. Death is not even the end of life. It is a new beginning.
When she was on her deathbed, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower, could say: “I am not dying; I am entering life.”
That is the hope that Catholics celebrate in this month of November. And as St. Paul tells us: “Our hope does not disappoint.”
Our hope does not disappoint because Christian hope is so much more than just a feeling.
Our Christian hope is based on the promises of Christ. And we know that his promises are true — because on the Third Day he indeed rose again from the dead in fulfillment of the Scriptures.
This is the beautiful reality of our Christian lives: We are baptized into Christ’s death and are made children of God and heirs to his resurrection. This is the reason we are created, and this is how we should live — as God’s beloved sons and daughters.
Jesus taught us the way to live in his beatitudes. Our lives are to be a following and imitation of Christ. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI has written: “In truth, the blessed par excellence is only Jesus. He is, in fact, the true poor in spirit, the one afflicted, the meek one, the one hungering and thirsting for justice, the merciful, the pure of heart, the peacemaker. He is the one persecuted for the sake of justice.”
So we live according to the pattern of Christ’s life, and we discover the unexpected joy in his promise — that in losing our lives we find them; in dying we rise to new life in him.
In our Christian lives we never travel alone. We belong to the family of God, his Church. We go always by the grace of God and in the company of Jesus and the communion of saints — that great cloud of witnesses who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
We should make ourselves more familiar with the saints, especially the great missionary saints of the Americas. They should be our friends and role models as we strive to grow in our spiritual lives. We should ask them often to pray and intercede for us.
By our example, in our words and actions, we need to share our hope in the resurrection with our neighbors. We should try to inspire them to want to be saints, too.
The saints are the “lived Gospel.” They show us Jesus. They show us how to love as he loved.
St. John of the Cross said: “At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love.”
So we have to make sure we use our time on this earth wisely. We have to use our freedom well. We need to have the right priorities, spending our days on the things that truly matter — on our relationships; on serving God and our brothers and sisters in love.
Our faith in the communion of saints means that our prayers and sacrifices for one another have real value. So we should pray for our Church and pray for one another.
St. Paul once wrote that human eyes have not seen and ears have not heard nor has any human heart conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.
This is our great hope — that we will be found among those who love him.
In this holy month of remembrance, let us dedicate ourselves once more to leading lives worthy of the place he has prepared for us.
Follow Archbishop José Gomez, the archbishop of Los Angeles, on Facebook
and read his column in the archdiocesan paper, The Tidings.