I’ve not had consisten internet access for the past few months, so I’m just now able to put up some posts I would have liked to a while ago. I’m hoping to have the internet situation changed in the next few weeks!
About 15 years ago, I started to experience something different in my life, and I believe it was God. I started to do a lot of different things that I would have considered strange to do before. And, I had a lot of questions.
One of those strange and different things was talk to a priest and ask a question. Although it wasn’t really staged as my own question as much as someone else’s question. I was talking about youth and the big questions that they might have. “You know, things like, why did Jesus have to die?” So there, I put it like it was a question that youth might have, but it was also clear it was my question, too. Why did Jesus have to die? There was an awkward pause as it sank in. I mean who is going to have an answer on the spot like that? There was no wikipedia back then. And there’s no short, neat answer in the catechism.
As the years went on, my parents and their siblings were getting up in years. (My Dad was 52 when I was born and my Mom was 39.) So at first, an uncle died. The whole family got together for the first time in years. Cousins I hadn’t seen since my high school days suddenly were like long lost friends. We said, “Let’s plan a get together.” Great idea, we all agreed.
It never happened.
Then, an aunt died. We all got together again for the wake and funeral time, and caught up again. “Let’s defintely plan something this time.”
Again, it never happened.
This kept going on, and we started to say to each other, “How come we only all get together when someone in the family dies?”
And that’s when I started to understand the answer to my question.
For the whole family to come together and be one, someone in the family has to die. For all the sons and daughters of God to come together and be one, Jesus had to die. That’s the way we are. Unless Jesus dies, the human family can’t come together as one.
A man in the village where I am in Ecuador had skin cancer on his toe. The doctors offered to amputate his foot, but without a guarantee that would cure the cancer. He decided to leave the foot, knowing what the outcome would be. I started to visit him a few months ago. He plays the guitar and knows all the local traditional and folk music. Before there was electricity and recorded music, he and a companion would play the guitar all night, from 8pm until sunrise for the fiestas, without repeating a single song. Since I am learning the charango instrument, I thought, maybe he can teach me a few songs, especially before his time comes.
Well, I learned one song before his condition deteriorated rapidly. I was able to accompany him and his family through his last days. He was one of the original founders of the nearby village, and he has 13 sons and daughters of his own. Needless to say, there were a lot of people together for the final days and for the funeral. I get to accompany the family praying a novena every night as they come together, and I shared a reflection.
I said, Don Olmedo doesn’t have a body like he used to. That’s because he has a better body. Now, he has all you to be his body. Stay together. Be one. It’s a process and it’s difficult to let go of his body. It’s not easy. But be together. You need each other. Because you are his body now. Everyone will know Olemedo now through you.
At every Mass, we re-present Jesus’ funeral and his resurrection. We all come together because someone very special in the family has died. His body isn’t here anymore like it was 2000 years ago. But now he has better.
He has you and me, and everyone else in the family.
We are his body now, and it’s a better body.
It’s a process and it’s difficult to let go and accept that, so we all need each other. We need to stay together and help each other come to that new reality.
And everyone will know Jesus through us.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falling to the ground dies, it remains alone. But if it dies, it will bear much fruit.” (Jn 12:24)