Sunday, June 09, 2024

Support For The Suddenly Shaken

Funeral Mass for Simon Teo

Readings: Wisdom 4: 7-15; Psalm 22; 1 Corinthians 15: 51-57; John 11: 17-27

Picture: By Ina Carolino on Unsplash

My dear friends, have you ever found yourself in a moving vehicle–say a bus, or a train, or even a car–which happens to jerk or brake very suddenly? We know what that feels like, don’t we? It’s as though, not just our body, but even our heart is violently shaken out of place. And our natural reaction is to reach out and try to hold onto to something for support. Similarly, as we move through the routine of daily life, we sometimes encounter situations that throw us off-balance. Not just physically, but also mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. And something inside us spontaneously reaches out for support. Perhaps this is also how we’re feeling, as we face the shock of our brother Simon’s sudden passing. Even if we may not realise it–possibly because we are preoccupied with the many important practical details associated with a funeral–our hearts still yearn for something that can steady us. Something to help us keep our balance, even as we grieve and mourn. This is what the scriptures offer us today.

The first reading aptly speaks of someone who dies before his time. Which some may see as a sign of God’s displeasure. For if a long life is a blessing, then shouldn’t a short life be considered a punishment? But the reading suggests a different view. By calling to their heavenly home those still relatively young, God is removing them from the evils and temptations of this passing world. For grace and mercy await the chosen of the Lord, and protection his holy ones. God’s desire is not to punish, but to preserve and to protect.

The second reading offers us further spiritual support by reminding us that, for us Christians, death is more like a comma than a full-stop. A full-stop brings a sentence to an abrupt end. But a comma marks a pause. It may even bring about a transformation, a radical change of direction. For we Christians believe that we are not all going to die, but we shall all be changed… because our present perishable nature must put on imperishabilityDeath is swallowed up in victory. The full-stop becomes a comma. And this happens not because of our own holiness, important as that may be, but through our faith in the Lord Jesus.

Isn’t this why, amid Martha’s confusion and grief, Jesus takes the time to tenderly engage her in conversation? What is the Lord doing for his beloved friend, if not helping her to keep her balance. Gently drawing out of her the faith that lies hidden in her heart. That God-given ability to hold onto the Lord. The One who, through his own Dying and Rising, has the power to console us and steady us, amid the many unpredictable ups and downs of our earthly existence. I am the resurrection and the life. If anyone believes in me, even though he dies he shall live… Do you believe this?

Do you believe this? This is the Lord’s response to all who who mourn. Do you believe this? A question that can steady us, when we are shaken out of place. Do you believe this? Sisters and brothers, even as we move through the process of grieving, how might we also help one another to keep pondering this powerful question in the days ahead?

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