Memory of the Church

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Reading of the Word of God

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I am the good shepherd,
my sheep listen to my voice,
and they become
one flock and one fold.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

1 Thessalonians 4, 13-18

We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve for them, as others do who have no hope.

We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.

We can tell you this from the Lord's own teaching, that we who are still alive for the Lord's coming will not have any advantage over those who have fallen asleep.

At the signal given by the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God, the Lord himself will come down from heaven; those who have died in Christ will be the first to rise,

and only after that shall we who remain alive be taken up in the clouds, together with them, to meet the Lord in the air. This is the way we shall be with the Lord for ever.

With such thoughts as these, then, you should encourage one another.


Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

I give you a new commandment,
that you love one another.

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

After having exhorted the Thessalonians to behave in a manner worthy of the vocation they have received, Paul speaks about the fate of the dead. It is not good to remain in uncertainty, as do those who do not believe. There was evidently an air of sadness which cast its shadow on the Thessalonians’ hope. Paul exhorts them to have new feelings: just as we do not become sad about our death because we know that we will rise again, so should we not "grieve" for those who are already dead. They too will rise again. Grief for the death of our dear ones should not leave us in despair. Christian hope is not based on philosophical theories, but on the certainty of Jesus’ resurrection. This is what the apostles have handed down to us in their preaching after having been witnesses: "he who was dead" truly lived among us, in flesh and blood, although in a spiritual way. All this is not part of the natural world; it is accessible only through faith. From the mystery of Christ’s resurrection, we pass on to that of our own resurrection and of those who have preceded us. Paul writes to the Philippians: we await from heaven that "the Lord Jesus Christ will transform the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself" (Phil 3:20). Creation will then be freed from "its bondage to decay" (Rom 8:21), and we shall have a "spiritual body" (enlivened by the Holy Spirit) (1Cor 15:44). Everyone, whether still alive here on earth or already deceased, finds their hope in Jesus’ resurrection. Perhaps someone among the Thessalonians thought that whoever had already died would not participate in the "parousia" that the Thessalonians thought was about to occur. Paul makes clear that resurrection from the dead applies to all the believers. The risen Christ’s "second" coming will be nothing other than the full manifestation of the Easter which has already occurred. The "order" of eternity, which is Christ himself, firstly refers to those already dead, and then come "the living, the survivors, we who shall be snatched with them among the clouds," that is, transferred to God’s own heaven. And "we will be with the Lord forever" (4:17). Paul says nothing about the tragic end of the world and of sin, nor about the new world and the new life. In fact the End and the end of history will come when we are all in Christ. Paul exhorts us to console ourselves with these words. The future has already begun with Christ’s resurrection.