Scripture: Lectionary 431. Sept. 2. I Thessalonians 4:13-18. Psalm 96:1.3.4-5, 11-12. 13. Luke 4:16-30:
Recently two important and dear friends of mine have died. I was present in an active way at both of these Masses of Christian Burial which certainly emphasizes our union with Christ through the mystery his resurrection flowing into our own. The reading from Paul to the Thessalonians for today (I Thess. 4:13-18) made me feel very consoled by Paul’s words about death. He continually opens the mystery of the Resurrection and even touches upon the Second Coming at times. He consoles us with his message about our Resurrection and its sure reality through the Resurrection of Jesus our Lord and Redeemer.
At one of the above Masses, a friend of me was moved very much by the celebration of the Liturgy and said to me, “There is nothing like the power and beauty of the Catholic Mass at a time like this when we say farewell to one of our loved ones. There is nothing like it in presenting the reality of death with the hope of life eternal.” I thoroughly agreed with him and had these words that are used in the liturgy, “For your faithful life is changed not taken away.”
What gives me courage to face my own departure in seeing so many of the faithful who accept God’s will and are not bitter. The fact that many of them see the persons who are near death receiving the sacraments strengthens them and me. Their acceptance is one of the best signs of trusting in the Lord who is the giver of life and the God of eternal life. Parents, friend, and religious persons do give us the greatest example of how to prepare ourselves for our own death. Paul was doing this for the Thessalonians by assuring them that though some have died they are with Christ and that those who live may even see and experience his Second Coming. This latter thought is even stronger in II Thessalonians.
I believe I learn as much about death through these dying persons as I do from the writings of St. Paul. Probably, he has influenced them greatly and they pass it on to persons who may not even read his letters. Let us pray for those who are approaching death that their great faith and courage may continue to inspire us and help us to trust totally in the fact that Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life. Amen.
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.