Saturday, April 17, 2010



I’m still grieving for my cousin Judy (see last week’s blog). This week in the midst of the church’s continuing shouts of “Alleluia! Death is conquered!” I’m still feeling the darkness of grief. Since it seems incongruous and even contradictory to be mourning during the Paschal celebration, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to deal with the contrast. Here are a couple of thoughts.


Easter is the spiritual ground on which we Christians stand no matter what else we may be feeling or thinking. The Resurrection is the central belief of our Creed. Whenever we’re grieving, then, it’s always in the context of the Easter mystery and Christ’s ultimate victory over death. The joyful music at the funeral mass is a celebration of that “ground” of our faith and not necessarily a reflection of how an individual may be feeling at the moment (as I was reminded once again last week!).

But this underlying belief gives a whole different character to our grief, as Paul writes “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thess. 4:13-14). So I keep working at grieving as one who does have hope – hope that one day my cousin’s death and my own death and everyone else’s death will be swallowed up in Jesus’ final victory over the powers of darkness.


In the Sermon on the Mount as Jesus is setting out his program for the Kingdom of God he blesses those who are grieving: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5:4). The One who wept for his friend Lazarus assures us that there’s room in the Kingdom for grieving. Like all the other beatitudes, however, this one is phrased as a promise: “they will be comforted,” almost implying that until the Kingdom is finally and fully established we may have to suffer a lot of grieving.


We hear in several readings during this season that when the risen Lord appeared to the disciples they were “filled with joy.” But these days I find it easier to picture myself standing beside Mary Magdalene weeping at Jesus' tomb (Jn 20:11). Actually I also picture myself standing beside Jesus himself and weeping with him outside the tomb of his friend, Lazarus. Of course my faith tells me that the miracle of Lazarus' rising is coming a few verses later (Jn 11:44), just as my own resurrection is coming some day. But right now, during this particular Easter season, it seems to make more sense for me to be standing and weeping with him, and with Magadalene. She is weeping for Jesus, He is weeping for Lazarus, and I’m weeping for Judy.

It seems like Easter will be late this year.

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