|Words of Encouragement
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During the last week as each of us considered the untimely death of Christopher, our hearts have been full of questions - chief amongst them being "how did this happen?" and "why did this happen?" These questions have not only been in the hearts and minds of his parents, brothers and family, but upon the lips of many of you who are here today - and indeed they have been heard throughout our community.
We are not here today to answer these questions - even if we could. Rather we are here to mourn - to mourn and to commend Christopher into God's care, and to ask God to help us - and to most especially Marzena and William through this tragedy.
In the most beautiful of gardens, even those tended by the most skillful of botanists, there is an occasional rose that buds, but never opens. In all respects the rose is like all the others, but something keeps it from blooming. It fades away - or disappears - without having reached maturity.
What happens in nature's garden happens once in a while also in the garden of God's human family. A boy is born, handsome, precious, but fails to come to its rightful unfolding. Christopher, like the bud that never fully opens, is gathered back into God's heavenly garden of souls - where all imperfections are made perfect; all injustices made right; all mysteries are explained; and all sorrows turned to happiness.
Today we mourn our loss of Christopher. We weep, just as Jesus himself wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. Even if we knew the answers to the questions that rise so naturally to our hearts and minds at times like this, there still would be no adequate explanation for this loss. It is painful. Itís extremely painful.
And I believe it is also painful to God, who created the world intending for it to be perfect. As Jesus himself said in the reading that I shared earlier: "It is not the will of your Father that one of these little ones should perish."
And, as promised to us by God through the prophet Isaiah, there will come a time when there is a new heaven and a new earth - a time when never again, will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, or an old man who does not live out his years.
But this is not yet that time. Rather this is the time when heaven yet remains above - and the earth below; the time when the joy of eternal life is only experienced in its fullness once our mortal bodies perish, much as a flower can come forth only after a seed or bulb is planted in the earth and loses its form.
Dear parents, family members, friends of Christopher,
There is a special place in the heart of God and amongst the angels for the young ones of this world, just as there is a special place in our hearts today for Christopher.
And so we weep at what has happened.
And so too - God weeps with us.
What can be said that might ease the pain or ease the grief that you - and all of us feel today?
There isn't much we can say that will help.
We can express our sympathy and sorrow.
We can offer words of love, care and concern.
We can say we will pray for you.
But other than that we don't know what to say about these things.
Maybe it is because people don't know what to say that they sometimes say the wrong things.
Some people may say that Christopherís death at this time was God's will. Don't believe them. The God we worship, the God who watches over us, didnít will the death of Christopher or the pain of his parents. Many, many things that happen in this world are not the will of God. That is part of the price of the freedom we have been given by God. This is the price of the freedom that Christopher received from God when he was born.
Some people may say to you that God wanted Christopher in heaven with him. While I am confident God has welcomed Christopher into his kingdom, I am sure God did not want him to die right now so that He could have him there.
I am sure the people who say things like this say them with a desire to comfort. They want to say something that will help. Bless them for it - but know that we are faced with a mystery - the mystery of life - and of death - in which there are no easy answers.
"What" then, "are we to say to these things?"
What St. Paul answers is:a
"If God is for us, who is against us?
He who did not withhold his own Son,
but gave him up for all of us,
will he not with him also give us everything else?"
It is important to know that God is for you. God did not do this to you.
God did not will Christopherís death or your pain. But God is with you in the midst of it all and will help you through it. God is for you. What is more, God gave up his own son for us all.
Marzena and William, and you Christopherís brothers - God understands your pain. God had a son who died also. Jesus died on the cross for us.
Now, you may think, "Sure, but Jesus rose from the dead." Well, because Jesus rose to new life you can be confident that Christopher has new life also, one that can never be snatched away from him - or from you.
Fr. Janusz Blarzejak
St. Casimrís Church