One of the things I feared when we had our hospital apostolate program was the possibility of being in the presence of death. I dreaded it because I did not know what to do or say in such situations. In the past, I usually avoided attending wakes and funerals unless I really had to. And so, the first time it happened to me at the hospital, I was overwhelmed by the emotion of grief present in the room that I quietly slipped out to compose myself. I was fortunate then that there were others with me who were better able to minister to the grieving family. Although, I was not as lucky the second time. One night, I was called in to pray for an infant who passed away. I was met by the baby’s parents. The mother was cradling the child as we prayed for her. After that, I was speechless. I tried talking with the couple, but I ended up mumbling that they did not understand what I was saying. And so, I just stood there with them for a few moments and prayed silently before leaving.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus invites us to believe in Him, and assures us that anyone who does will never die. Death is part of the life of a priest. Priests accompany people and journey with them throughout their lives: from baptism until their final farewells. As a Christian, as well as a priest-in-process, we are called to be Christ’s presence in the world. His presence consoles. His presence gives hope. His presence gives us life. I may still not know what to say in the situations of grief, but I believe that Jesus is with me. I believe that Jesus is also present in every Christian’s life. It is He who will console, He who will give hope, He who gives life. We are but His instruments, but we have to cooperate with Him to make this possible.
By: Sem. Richard Anthony Lim
Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary
to comfort them about their brother [Lazarus, who had died].
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming,
she went to meet him;
but Mary sat at home.
Martha said to Jesus,
“Lord, if you had been here,
my brother would not have died.
But even now I know that whatever you ask of God,
God will give you.”
Jesus said to her,
“Your brother will rise.”
Martha said to him,
“I know he will rise,
in the resurrection on the last day.”
Jesus told her,
“I am the resurrection and the life;
whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,
and anyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?”
She said to him, “Yes, Lord.
I have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God,
the one who is coming into the world.”