“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.”
Can’t you just picture the tenderness with which Jesus spoke these words to his disciples? He knew that these words would be written down for us as well. Jesus reassures us today, almost like a small child, that everything is going to be ok. Don’t worry, don’t be afraid. He is there. Jesus is not going to leave us alone. Even in death, we do not need to be afraid. He said he will come for us: “I will come back again and take you to myself.” When Jesus said, “take you to myself” perhaps he meant he waiting for us with open arms, to embrace us when we finally join him in heaven. This is ultimately what Jesus wants, for us to come to him and live with him forever in our Father’s kingdom.
When parents put their small children to bed at night, they often reassure them and comfort them, when there is a storm outside and lightening strikes or there are strange noises in the house that scare them. Dark nights always scares children because they can not see what is hidden in the darkness.
The unknown is a scary thing for adults too. Jesus realizes this and does not want any of us to be afraid of dying. He will be there in person to greet us. The dark, hidden things are not scary for children when their parents are beside them. It is the same with us. We will not be afraid when we walk through the shadows of death one day, because the Lord is with us. He wants us to believe in Him and to trust that what he says is the truth. We will live forever and never die – if we believe Him.
The Lord assures us that heaven is a beautiful place with plenty of room for everyone. All peoples of the earth will find a home there and it isn’t, “a one size fits all” either. Jesus spoke of heaven as if there are different, “places” for everyone.
We have a beautiful hymn in our church called, “Eye Has Not Seen” and the refrain goes like this: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, what God has ready for those who love him.” One of the verses that we sing are, “Our lives are but a single breath, we flower and we fade, yet all our days are in your hands, so we return in love, what love has made.” And … “Spirit of love, come give us the mind of Jesus, teach us the wisdom of God.”
We should be a little more aware today, of just how much the Lord loves us. He said, “you know the way to the place where I am going.” This way – is love. The path to heaven is love. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus’s love for us, our love for him, and for our family and friends is eternal.
The Lord’s words in the gospel today are so beautiful. We could think about them the entire day. Of course most of us can’t, but still, the sentiment is there.
One last thought though, about death. No one likes to talk about dying, often even the person who is dying. But, all people deserve to die with dignity. We need to make sure that every person we are around who is critically ill, is still given the very best care that we can provide for them. They should of course be able to receive the anointing of the sick and not wait until the last minute either, because the graces from this sacrament is the grace that carries them home. It would be an awesome thing to be able to go to confession and receive communion before our own death and be truly prepared to meet the Lord.
It might be a good thing to treat dying people the way we ourselves would want to be treated. When we were born into this world, people greeted us with warmth, love, caring and companionship. We should offer no less to those whom we love, in the final journey of their life.
We should also be more aware of how we act in the presence of a dying person. Does our presence bring them comfort and peace? Does our presence convey love to them? Or are we mainly focused on our own suffering and grief? It is hard for a dying person to listen to their loved ones cry in front of them. However, dying people often like to be touched, to have people pray for them, or pray the rosary at their bedside, or have family and friends gathered around them with happy stories from their lives together. All of us would like to end our life’s journey in the loving company of our closest family and friends. We pray for a peaceful and happy death.
This has been a difficult subject to think about, but it might help us to be prepared ahead of time when we will need to say goodbye to those we love and let them go home to Jesus. Eye has not seen and ear has not heard, what God has prepared for them, but it will most certainly be beautiful and full of light and love. Jesus himself promised this to us.