Mass for Deceased Brothers – 4th November 2016

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Our annual Mass for Deceased Brothers was well attended on Friday. We had 40 brothers, wives and widows present for the Mass and 35 stayed on for a Fish and Chip supper afterwards.

The Mass was celebrated by Canon Jonathan Cotton, from St. Joseph’s parish, Shirebrook. He reflected on the significance of the readings for  the 32nd Sunday of Ordinary Time which deal with what it will be like in heaven – Jesus’ teaching of the Sadducees brought home that we will all be “like the angels” and without need for marriage partners.

As one online commentary (Hot Air, 6 November 2016) puts it:

Jesus offers an insight into God’s plan for marriage and family as a training ground, if you will, for the eternal life Jesus describes to the Sadducees. It is the model in which we are called to exercise our reflection of God’s image — creators ourselves of new life, living in a sacrificial and self-giving love with each other. It is the model of the Trinitarian life. We struggle to maintain this, though, because of our own sinfulness and selfishness. Through those struggles, we learn to accommodate and to give of ourselves more freely and to love with less selfishness. We also learn to apply this self-sacrificial love to our neighbors, and then even to our enemies to reflect the glory of the Lord. Marriage and family offer us the opportunity to create life, strengthen our faith, and prepare ourselves for eternal life.

Paul writes to the Corinthians that faith and hope will eventually pass away, but love endures. We do not need faith and hope when we enter into the Trinitarian life with the Father, because that is our hope, and faith will be redeemed in our salvation. No longer will we need formation, either; our sorrows and travails will have ceased, and our attachment to sin will have passed with them. Instead, we will live entirely within the love of God along with everyone else who has been saved, and we will be sisters and brothers in His family. The need and purpose for for marriage will have expired.

If marriage is preparation in this life, so is community — even then and even now, some people in our own communities continue to act in bad faith and ridicule. We are not called to respond in kind, or to walk away, either. We are called to act as Jesus does here in patiently proclaiming the truth of the Lord. That is one example of what Jesus meant by loving one’s enemies; we offer them salvation even through their derision or worse. We do this because we follow the God of the living, not the dead, and we want to help bring as many of His children back into the light as we can. Responding in kind only pushes them away, and darkens our own hearts.

Or, to put it in more contemporary terms, don’t feed the trolls. Pray for them and set an example as our Lord did, in our words and in our deeds, as the mother and her seven sons did. In the end, we know that our family will live in joy and unity, and we want as many as possible to join it. Think of it as having the last laugh, but with our trolls rather than in spite of them.”

 

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And a slightly different reflection (sacredheartmessenger.com, 5 November 2016) gives us purpose for our remembrance of those gone before us:

God is God of life, the Gospel  says; ‘to him all are alive,’ even the dead.

God breaks into life in a new way at our death. It happens in small ways every time we are transformed a bit – when we forgive, make peace, really help another, when we promise ourselves to someone or something, …this is an effect of the resurrection. But the final one is a gift unlike any earthly gift.

We need to share this hope with each other. The peace you may have felt at the death of someone, the dream where the loved one was happy, the thanks you feel for another for ever… all of this brings hope even when their death is sudden or self inflicted or at a young age. As we place our candle at the altar for our loved ones in November, we are letting them go off into what death really is – our finding our way to the arms of God.

Pope Francis says, ‘Hope is not looking at a half-full glass, which is simply optimism, which is a human attitude that depends on many things. Hope is a gift of Jesus, of His very self, His very name is hope. It is Christ in you, the hope for glory.’

This is the eternal hope which is the root of our joy even in the losses of our lives.”

May they rest in peace.

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