Jesus is talking to his disciples today telling them pain is coming, but joy is not far behind. He says: Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy: And then he gives an analogy to a woman giving birth. Later on in today's reading Jesus says I have said these things to you so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage, I have conquered the world.
These words are important for me to hear this morning. I am one of the clergy people who will be leading a funeral service for a 31 year old man who died unexpectedly and quickly after being diagnosed with a vicious and virulent form of cancer recently. He leaves an equally young wife, his parents and in-laws to sort through their loss and grief.
The deep pain of losing someone who had been so vital and active makes these words of Jesus stand out for me today. Perhaps these words will not bring solace to this family's pain and loss right now, but in the near-term future when the pain is not so sharp and new, these words can help bring about healing. For Christ has gone ahead of us, just as Matthew has now gone ahead of us to join all those saints that have also gone before, and who surround us as a great cloud of witnesses, all gone into God's loving embrace.
The unquantifiable pain of this loss can only be softened by this fact: that we know that when we die, it is not over. Perhaps dying in Eastertide, at the rebirth of all things, can help those of us with grief in our lives to remember that tenet of our faith.
God of all, we pray for all those whom we love but see no longer. Grant to them eternal rest. Let light perpetual shine upon them. May the souls of al the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen. (BCP p. 498)
Copyright 2010, The Rev. John F. Dwyer. All Rights Reserved.