When one thinks of common experiences, I think we can all agree that grief is something that we have all felt at one time or another. Separation from those we love produces profound feelings. Sociologists have defined it and examined it. Poets have sung of it. We have all felt it.
Today’s passage is from the Second Book of Samuel. I might add that it is the “PG” version of the story. If you open your Bibles to the first chapter and read the entire story, you will find that the lectionary leaves out much of the story. Instead, the reading concentrates on David’s grief for his friend Jonathan who died with his father.
What David could not have known at the time is that the death of Saul and Jonathan were necessary parts of God’s plan of salvation. That might be hard for us to hear. We might be ready to accept that the death of Saul was necessary. However, Jonathan’s death is somewhat more troubling. Yet in order for David to become king, both had to die. Hope and the fulfillment of God’s promise lies at the far edge of David’s grief.
C.S. Lewis wrote about grief eloquently. Grief is part of the love that we have known. If we had not loved, we would not grieve. Grief is also the genesis of the joy that is yet to come. For there will come a day when we will be rejoined with those whom we have loved. Our grieving now will give birth to our joy then.
As we celebrate the Eucharist every day, it is important for us to remember that without the death of Jesus, we would not have the joy of this sacrament. Our hope and the fulfillment of God’s promise for us is also at the edge of our grieving at the death of Jesus. This is precisely why we celebrate the Eucharist as we bury the dead. Jesus’ death and his resurrection are inseparable just as the death of our loved ones cannot be separated from the love we have known and the love that we will once again know when our pilgrimage is over.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator