DEATH & GRIEVING


Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; and he said, ‘Where have you laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus wept.” (Jn 11: 32-35)

On this Memorial Saturday preceding Pentecost, when we commemorate our departed, I am thinking about how the Lord shares our human grief over the death of a loved one, when we share it with Him. When Lazarus’s sister Mary fell before Him in tears, surrounded by friends who are also in tears, Jesus allowed Himself to be so “deeply moved in spirit and troubled” that He wept with them. He also allowed Himself to be led, by the mourners, to Lazarus’s tomb (as if He didn’t know where it was), thus leading the grief-stricken to participate in the healing He was bringing them.

On the special days set aside in our church-calendar for the commemoration of the departed, like this Memorial Saturday, I am invited to bring my mourning where it belongs, – before the Lord, and within the community and communion of the saints. The rhythm and wisdom of the church-calendar help me 1. Not to grieve alone, and 2. Not to grieve non-stop, so that it takes over my life, but to do so at these specially-appointed times, like this Saturday, in the grace-filled and healing manner offered to me in our Tradition. “Lord, I have cried unto You, hear me!” (Ps 140: 1a)

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