A homily on the occasion of a mother’s death
28 December 2018
Wisdom 3:1 – 9; Psalm 15; Titus 2:11 – 14; John 11:17 – 27
I turned off the lights in the living room where mom was sleeping and as I lay on the couch the rooms were filled with points of green lights moving across the ceiling and walls. What caused this didn’t seem important. I lay there for hours that night watching the movement and patterns.
It was like a meteor shower. The Perseids – right here in the house! Embers from a summer camp fire; these points of light darting about. Darting. “In the time of their visitation they shall shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble…” The movement continued all through the night. It was the longest and darkest night of the year – the winter solstice. The lights didn’t diminish but were gently subsumed into the rising light of dawn. “The King shall come when morning dawns And light triumphant breaks…And earth’s dark night is past…And light and beauty brings.”
The Book of Wisdom refers to darting sparks as the souls of the just; taken up, caught up into the dawn. Isn’t this the hope of the just? Isn’t this our hope as Christians?
But what does it mean to be just? Unlike our sense of legal justice which is a response to a person’s choices and actions and can at times falter and result more in vengeance than fairness, biblical justice is about how we live with God through how we live with each other. The brief Psalm 15 states with simple directness the values. Justice is doing what is right, speaking truth from the heart, not slandering a neighbor nor doing harm to another person, not belittling a friend, honouring God, keeping your word despite the cost, and not lending money at interest or taking a bribe against the innocent.
Biblical justice is about being faithful to each other because God has been and continues to be faithful to us – despite the cost. This is fidelity to each other even when rejected; sometimes time and time again. When immaturity does not recognize the invitation. A fidelity grounded in patience toward the other person. A willingness to wait upon the other as Jesus was patient with Martha, “I have come to believe that you are the Christ…’ A fidelity grown in the rich soil of mutual devotion and care found in marriage and deep friendship.
Mom was faithful to her husband, William Joseph, her sons, her parents and mother–in–law, her friends and her God. That is why the just dart about in the darkness like sparks so as to show us the way.
Who is faithful to you – despite the cost?
To whom are you faithful – despite the cost?