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After the euphoria and rejoicing of All Saints, we contemplate, in today’s Feast, the many souls who have gone before us. We are confronted with the reality of death. Yet, today’s readings, which are often chosen at funerals, give us great cause for hope: we are told that the Lord will destroy death for ever, and there will be no more mourning or sadness. Isaiah prophesies this in the Old Testament, and St. Paul confirms it in the New: Christ destroyed death by dying for sinful people. He did this because of His great love for us.
The Gospel gives us an example of this great love. Jesus raises a young man who has died, thus turning mourning into rejoicing. St. Luke (7:11-18)tells us that Jesus gives the young man back to his mother, who is a widow. Without her son, she would have had no-one to provide for her and protect her. This shows Jesus’ respect for a type of people who were helpless in that society: God insisted on kindness to orphans and widows, for they were all too often overlooked. This tells us that Jesus sympathises with and mourns with those who mourn. In another place, we are told that He wept for His friend Lazarus, who had died. (John 11)
Yes, but what about all the suffering and untimely death in the world today? Where is God and His sympathy in all this? I believe that He would be close to all who mourn if they would let Him into their hearts, and let the words of His Scriptures comfort them. Jesus was fully human as well as fully divine in His Incarnation, and He endured all the suffering humans endure in His Passion. So, He is still beside those who suffer today, suffering with them, as He was beside the widow of Naim.