Looking Close . . . Looking Far
Gustave Doré's illustration to Dante's Divine Comedy
Two events occurred one after the other in our parish this week: funeral Masses for two long-time parishioners, Ester and Lita, the first on Thursday and the other on Friday, and the wake services for them held at the funeral home the day before.
The reality of one's inevitable leaving this earthly life strikes at one's consciousness again at these times, and what happens after this departure is taken up in the "words of remembrance" by family and friends who recall fond memories of the life of the loved one who has left and declare that "the loved one is now in a better place" or "is with God now."
There was a third event this week: the passing of a close relative, Joy, who lived in the other coast of the country, one that I have never even seen in person. Death is a great unifier, where one can not but feel the loss of a kin and friend, and at the same time brings to the fore the solidarity that exists, not always explicitly expressed or perceived, among those bound together by friendship and family ties.
I believe that these events force us to take time out from the activities and concerns of our own daily lives and look closely, first hand, on what is also inevitable for each one of us, whatever state of health we are in, whatever our age is, whatever place we are at.
This event called death will come, for sure, for each one of us. But we do not know the day nor the hour. Many times we are seated in the pews beholding a dear relative or friend lying still, or in a closed box. We do not know when our relatives and friends will be seated in the pews in grief and prayer, looking this time at us lying still.
The readings at funeral Masses and wake services make us turn our minds' and hearts' eyes to our own coming "event." They are meant, however, to affect us and our lives, and how we should live it.
The Lord's promise is eternal life for those who love Him. . . for those who follow His commandments and make Him the Center of their lives.
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil." (2 Cor 5:9-10)
In the midst of the joys and consolations of this life are crosses and trials. They make us look at life at close range. But at the same time they should make us look farther beyond and contemplate the meaning of it all. After all, that farther beyond is what will truly matter for each of us individually, and it will last forever.#
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:19-21)
"Rather, as it is written: “- No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no heart has imagined,what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Cor 2:9)