The past several weeks we have experienced more than our share of tragedies and funerals in our faith communities. It is in these times that sorrow befalls upon us and tempts us to despair and hopelessness. But, do not give in to this darkness. Let the light of Christ pierce the darkness with a light of hope that only God can give! Know with the fullness of your being that God is at work, and his divine power and genius is more than capable of turning darkness and tragedy into light and triumph!
I am reminded of one of my favorite Scripture verses which is constantly opened to in my office. The verses come from the Book of Lamentations and are the words of a faithful, yet suffering individual. The whole book is one big lament, yet almost exactly in the middle of the short book, a piercing ray of hope is uttered about the truth of God:
"My life is deprived of peace, I have forgotten what happiness is; My enduring hope, I said, has perished before the Lord...
But this I will call to mind; therefore I will hope:
The Lord ’s acts of mercy are not exhausted, his compassion is not spent; They are renewed each morning—great is your faithfulness!
"The Lord is my portion, I tell myself, therefore I will hope in him.
The Lord is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him;
It is good to hope in silence for the Lord ’s deliverance.
(Lam 3:17, 21-26)
Yes! The mercies of the Lord are not exhausted by the grief and sadness that befalls us. The word "mercy" translated in the New American Bible comes from the Hebrew word, Hesed which signifies an unchanging, constant devotion, a loving kindness that forgives with a divine mercy. Even when one our youngest members tragically dies in an accident, as happened this past week, God is active, alive, and ready to catch us when we fall.
It is for these things and more that our Lord suffered so much. It is for these things that Jesus desired to die so that we would not have to die eternally. Our God is mighty to save and full of compassion. So, do not be afraid when tragedy strikes, when loss is so great that you do not know what to do. Simply lean on our Lord. Shout out to him who listens with perfect understanding. Share the entirety of your grief. Even your anger... let him know of it. Just remember, he loves you. He suffers with you. You don't need to be anything other than yourself when you approach him. You don't have to have the "right " words. Just give him your broken heart. And by his amazing grace, he will triumph over the darkness so that you can rejoice with him.
So, let God sit with you in your grief. Let him turn your sadness into joy. Listen to the Lord while he speaks his words of love to you. Yes, he loves you even when you are lost. Let him be your way, truth, and life. May all glory and praise be to our God who is our Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
Fr. William Holtzinger