Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the day which marks the beginning of Holy Week during which we experience Christ’s entry into Jerusalem and have a foretaste of his Passion and Resurrection.
At church we had a great time, the children produced wonderful banners, the evening service was also a great time for fellowship, followed by a rather jolly dinner for all those who worked hard to make such a day so special.
Yet, this morning, on this Monday of Holy Week, reality hit me hard. We held a funeral in church, not that it is a new experience for me, as I have been involved in funerals before, both in family and at church, but I wasn’t quite ready for what I was going to expect. Far from me to sound emotionless, but I thought it would have been a classic funeral for a well loved elderly person.
It wasn’t - it was the funeral of a well loved young dad who died of throat cancer within a year of being diagnosed. Dylan spent his life travelling the world with his band, some of his favourite pieces were played during the ceremony.
His daughters’ and granddaughters’ eulogies at church and at the crematorium were absolutely moving, especially as some of the youngest girls got rather emotional.
It rather reminded me of my mother’s funeral when I was 16, I can’t pretend to know how the children and family were feeling, but I couldn’t help but feeling how great the pain love can produce can be.
Accompanying Dylan’s wife and best buddy in the car to the crematorium was one of the most intimate experiences I have ever had, a window into a family’s most private moment - I have witnessed people die before and I can never stop feeling humbled by being able to share such moments with people. Seeing their tears, listening to their deepest emotions, being there with someone who is not there anymore.
The power of love can be an instrument of peace and it can be an instrument of torture. Funerals can leave us working with the families, feeling drained, sad and remindful of our own experiences with death, and yet we must keep professional and strong for those who are going through it. Let me tell you, it sounds like a difficult task, but really it is incredibly humbling. This is not even my first Holy Week funeral, and yet I can’t help but feel a strong connection with God right now, who sent his Son into this world to suffer and die for us.
What pain did Mary feel when Jesus was taken away? I am always one who finds comfort in rationality and doesn’t like to utter empty phrases at those who mourn, but I can’t but think as Easter approaches, that there is always a Resurrection, the race is not complete and we will all finally join in heaven one day with our loved ones.
We have all experienced grim moments in our lives, especially if we have loved, but hope is what can bring us back to common sense, the hope of the Resurrection is always there. Holy Week always ends with Easter, but we must keep fighting, and we mustn’t leave anyone behind, we must be able to recognise our failures and to recognise those who fail at getting up in the face of adversities to help them overcome their struggles. We must fight and help the weak to fight, we must be there for the grieving, the poor and sick, the sinner, whatever that means, and those who think they aren’t. If we can always aim at the common good and strive for justice, if we can all act together as a communal body to help each other, we will find that love is there, and where love is God himself is there. And where there is God, there is the Resurrection, the final joy and consolation to all our sins.
As long as we will be there for Dylan, his family, for all who need it, God will be with us - it was a great privilege to be there this morning to give support to a family that needed it, not everyone is called to give support to people in the same manner, but we can all each find a way to do that in our own ways.
As we approach the Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday let us reflect on helping each other in sharing our burdens, and at the last to commend all our problems to God, who by dying for us aimed at our eternal felicity and salvation. There will always be those who will feel like their problems are the worst and cannot be solved but let us not lose hope, let us keep fighting the good fight. If we lose hope we will lose the great strength hidden in every each one of us, there is no shame in seeking help from those around us. The process of grieving for Dylan's family has just begun, the process of healing has not yet started. What can we do for them? What can we do for all those who mourn or suffer? We must be there.
Today’s experience was particularly draining for me, I won’t hide it, but it has also been a great privilege, it made me realise that it is what we are called here to do. There is no greater joy in life than causing those who are weeping to smile. It means that there is still hope. Let us fight our way through this Holy Week and our life, that at the end we may attain whatever it is that we strive for, we are here to stay. There is no magic medicine that can cure us from pain, but there are ways to cope and carry on, and once we’ll learn how to do it - we can finally aim at the final goal. Let us fight our way through this difficult life, and let us fight to reach that goal, that joy and serenity that will burst at Easter: The Strife is over, the battle done, the victory of life is won, the song of triumph hath begun… Alleluia! God will comfort us to the end of times, and his love lives in each act of charity and generosity that we do, we make God live in us, and we are his body that makes the Resurrection happen again each time, it’s a power that lies with in us. Let’s try and dig it out! If you don't feel like your life is a long battle, good! Help your neighbour to fight through her struggles! Keep positive and carry on! We are one body, one family, one Church.
After the Passion, there is always the Resurrection. I wish you a blessed Holy Week and Easter Day.
What would Jesus say about it all? Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.