Have you ever realized the great hope we have as Christians?
Last weekend, I attended the funeral of a friend from my college who passed away unexpectedly in a car accident earlier this month. This Saturday, I will be attending another funeral mass for a father (who has several wonderful children) from a parish that I volunteered at for a few years near Atlanta.
Receiving the news of death is never easy, and no matter how expected a loved ones passing may be it does not, in my own experience, make it any easier. These past few weeks have reminded me yet again, that death, devastating as it may be, is not the end.
One of the mission leaders asked me ‘what do you think God is trying to teach you in all of this?’ As I pondered this question, I was struck by the reality of our hope as Christians. Christ promised us that He has gone to prepare a place for us. He also promised that we will ‘be with Him in paradise.’ This is news not of dread and pain, but of joy and excitement. The reality of God’s promise is full of HOPE.
It has taken me a few years to even come close to understanding the truth of our hope. I pray for those I know, who have passed away, every time I go to mass. Days rarely pass when I am not reminded of them or recall a memory we had together. Though this may be true, over the past year something has changed. The change has not been an external one, but simply a change in the posture of my heart.
For a long time, I would become rather frustrated and confused about why God had to take so many people from my life. I thought that in death, He was abandoning them and in some ways forsaking those who loved them as well. I have begun to realize, however, that God is present both in life and in death. He has not abandoned or forsaken them. In turn this also means, He has not abandoned or forsaken any of us.
Br. John Ignatius always says, “God is here.” How appropriate is it that I realize the promise of Emmanuel in this season of Advent. God is here! He is here right now in this moment and has not forsaken any of us. No matter the circumstance or situation, He is here, and will always be here! Emmanuel is His promise to each of us, and it is a promise that we can cling to, a hope that we can run to, and a reality that we must aim to believe!
With all of this in mind I ask you again, have you ever realized the great hope we have as Christians? The great hope, that knowing when we pass from this world it is not the end. It truly is a hope that does not disappoint