By H.G. Dr Geevarghese Mar Osthathios
The Apostles Creed says, "We believe in the Communion of Saints." It means that we are in communion with the saints living and departed as both belonging to one body of Christ, the Church. Any perfect prayers includes the whole church here and beyond.
(a) The Believers in Christ have had the eternal life here itself (Jn. 3. 16) and they have no death (Jn. 11:26). We are not praying for the dead, but for the departed ones.
(b) The departed are with the Lord (Col. 3: 1) and around us as a cloud of witnesses and so they can hear our prayers (Heb. 12: 1, 22). We are seated in heaven (Eph. 2:6).
(c) The church, being the one and only body of Christ, has the blood circulation of prayer from which no part of the body is excluded (Rom. 12: 4-5; I Cor.12: 12 etc).
(d) Ps. 115: 17 must be read with the following verse which says, "but we will bless the Lord from this time forth and for evermore." In Rev. 7: 13-17 we see the saints praying to God day and night in their departed status.
(e) Even the wicked rich man in Hades prayed for his five brothers (Lk. 16: 28). The gulf between Hades and Paradise was bridged by the descent of Christ to Hades soon after His crucifixion (I Pet. 3: 18; 4: 6),.Christ preached to the disobedient souls.
(f) In the 0. T. period prayers for the departed was a common practice. (Dt. 34: 8). There are clear prayers for the departed souls in II Maccabees 12: 44-46.
(g) "Blessed be he by the Lord, whose kindness. has not forsaken the living or the dead" (Ruth 2: 20).The Love of God is everlasting and knows no limits. (I Cor. 13: 8, 13)
(h) St. Paul prayed for the departed Onesiphorus (II Tim 1:18, 4: 19). The New English Bible adds "I pray" in this verse. The form itself is that of the usual prayer for the departed. See Dummalow Commentary on this text.
(i) Can the children forget their parents when they are buried? (I Tim. 5: 4). Is it possible not to pray for the loving departed? Love demands that we pray for them and leave the result to Him.
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