Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 14, 2019

This coming Thursday I will have the honor and duty as a priest to be present for a couple I married almost ten years ago, but this time it will be to help a young widow bury her husband unexpectedly. I remember with great joy the day of their wedding; this week, I will celebrate his life and those moments over the last ten years that will now be all she, and their young son, will have to hold on to. I will be honored, but I will be mournfully sad, too.

I have sat at many a death bed and seen a living, breathing, hoping, loving person become a lifeless body. The person has gone. And I have often said a simple prayer from the Canon. After all, these are the things most dying people are longing for. One of my favorite parts of the Eucharistic Canon includes these words, when I say the prayer for the Departed and ask God that they be granted a place of “refreshment, light and peace”. It is what I hope for George this week, but also for all of us as we depart from this to whatever is next.

Death is not scary to me, but dying is. So, by refreshment, what we usually mean as a new start or at least a new look is important to me. Refreshment can mean a cool drink on a hot summer’s day, or a quick shower after a hard sweaty job, but my wish – my prayer – for the departed is always for my own longing of the refreshing sight of a new life. One where I – and they – will finally behold the very face of God. 
The manger, the ‘Christmas crib’, we have just left behind once again as a church, and a gift of St. Francis to the world’s devotion, is a great symbol of a great mystery! For the crib, and the cross, were the two loves of Jesus’ life founded as the mystery of the Incarnation of the eternal God, and the mystery of His giving up that life for the likes of sinful us.

We, as Christians, are often so busy proving that Jesus is God that we sometimes deemphasize the fact that he is also truly human, with all the feelings and experiences, joys and sorrows of our human life. When we say that He had no sin, we somehow feel that He was exempt from emotion, temptation, limitation, problems. The baby in the crib found that day so long ago in Bethlehem’s stable is a statement of the goodness of human life and that we – just like the God we love – are fully human and will weep in times of transition, but that a place of “refreshment, light and peace” is on its way.

So for me, this place of refreshment, light and peace sums up perfectly my belief in God. And that’s just the beginning, until the trumpet sounds and the rest period is over, and the great Resurrection raises us all to a new life of love beyond all telling.

I pray this week that you will remember how fleeting life is and that you will build up for yourselves the things that last and matter. For I know if I were to ask this grieving family what was truly important to them now, it would be the stuff of family, love, and church and nothing of material wealth or possessions.  

In the end, we have no adequate words to describe what is to come, well except perhaps the word, ‘Heaven’…

How will your life end? What will people remember about you? If you were stand at the edge of your own grave and reflect back at your life, did you do anything, support anything, sacrifice anything that truly helped God build the Kingdom you are so hopeful to enter?

One Response to “Franciscan Moments @ Saint Miriam: January 14, 2019”

  1. Marie Hazelton says:

    Thank you since my diagnosis I have been very fearful and not sure of what. Something you said so simple but so true. I am not afraid of death but of dying.

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