I’ve been training as a psychoanalytical therapist for a few years now and I find it interesting that most theorist believed that from the moment we become infant we are working out our dependence and separateness from our good enough mother or whoever our primary care-giver was.
If that person is now deceased, we have probably been grieving and working on that lost through many years. Most of our jobs think that this process of grief should take no more than three days to a week, and then we are supposed to go back and be all done with it. Yet, we all know that this is not possible. I guess I am thinking about this because yesterday I did a funeral for some children who lost their mother on Thursday. In addition to it being Mother’s day, their mother was just turning 69 today. Mother’s Day will probably never be the same for them again, it will probably be a time of grieving for a very long time. Sometimes being better and sometimes worst.
The Gospel today is almost like this. We have been having readings about Resurrection every week. And then all of a sudden, the Gospel brings us back to that time when Jesus was telling his disciples that he would be leaving them. I guess maybe those who selected these readings new that our experience with death and loss is like this. We go forth between our celebration of the hope of a resurrection and new life and the feelings of loss, pain and grief.
I told the family I spoke with yesterday in the funeral, give yourselves permission to be between the feelings of sadness and pain and the gift that her life continues to live in each of your hearts.
Jesus told his disciples, I know you will miss me. Yet, he hoped they would not be absolutely comfortless. So he offered them these gifts. First, he wanted them to know that he and the Father (and we might even begin to hear that the message of Pentecost is coming close) through the Holy Spirit would always be present in and with them. Second, he did not want them to become stuck in their loss and grief. So he invited them to be active in continuing to do the works that Jesus had begun to do in the world.
Maybe we can take two great lessons from this. We are to know that God continues to be present in us and with us. We are to remember that because we are the people of resurrection we know our loved ones are present with us and that the imprint of our loved ones continue to live in and through us. Second, we are to remember that as the disciples are called to continue the mission of Christ in the world. In doing this we will continue to keep Jesus resurrection power alive. That when we may feel that our world around us has gone crazy, we still have the power and hope of resurrection that becomes real through the work of our mission in the world. That we are the hope and keep hope alive as the people of faith. We also continue to keep our loved ones alive through the gifts that they have given us.
I usually invite people to help create a homily in funeral services. Yesterday the children said things like, “she had a contagious smile”. And again, “we could go to her for advice and it didn’t matter how busy she was she always seemed to have time to listen to us”. I told them don’t ever lose these attributes. Spread them in the world. Give that contagious smile to other and you will be keeping her alive not just in heaven but here.
So this Gospel today makes loss and grief of the ones we love and trust and count on, normal.
We are to continue to move forward, trusting that the work of grief will continue to operate healing in and for us. That as we continue to live and serve and offer the gifts that our loved ones have offered us, they will continue to live in us and through us. That this is the way of Jesus creating a new world through the power of resurrection. It gives us a glimpse of how the grieving process may become new life.
May God grant us the faith to continue to grow in the hope of the resurrection. Amen.