Homily for Oct 16, 2016

What do we do about our losses in life – lost jobs, lost opportunities, lost relationships with people and even pets we've loved? Do we hide the losses, lock them up and throw the key away? Do we go on living as if they were never real? Or try to convince ourselves that our losses really don't matter? Do we blame others? Maybe we do one or more of these, but there is another way of dealing with our losses: we can genuinely mourn them! We can shed real tears and allow ourselves to grieve deeply. When we mourn our losses we face directly the painful truth of our own brokenness. In our grief we learn to understand that we are not in control our lives – and never were.

When we mourn our losses, we open ourselves to a world in which we do not stand alone. People are suffering losses far beyond our own circle of family, friends and communities. There is a world of prisoners, of refugees, of the terminally ill, of starving children, a world where tens of millions of people live in a constant, nightmarish fear for their very lives.

Yet in the midst of all this pain, all this loss, all this suffering, we hear a strange voice. It is the voice of Jesus telling us, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Is there a blessing hidden in our grief? In the midst of our tears, can a hidden gift be revealed, a new song begin, a song of joy?

We may be here today with heavy hearts broken by many losses. If so, do our losses lead us to resentment or to gratitude? Resentment is a real option, and many choose it. When we have one loss after another, it's not difficult to become angry and bitter and... resentful. But resentment can easily become a destructive force in our lives, hardening our hearts and preventing us from recognizing the goodness that exists in and all around us.

Our Sunday community gathering presents us with a different option: gratitude, not resentment! At every Eucharist we acknowledge the pain and suffering of Jesus. He surrendered his life in a horrifying crucifixion. The people he loved stood by the cross and mourned his loss. It is here that we come to understand that in our grieving, we come to know life is a gift. You and I continue the mission Jesus began. We together are the living Body of Christ in today's world.

Every Eucharist begins with a cry for God's mercy: “Jesus, have mercy! God, have mercy. Jesus, have mercy!” Our prayerful cry for mercy is true and genuine only when we admit our sins. Our 'penance' for these sins is to become Jesus' agents for peace and justice. Can we mourn our losses and become people of gratitude and thanksgiving? I believe we can. Every death is an invitation to a new dimension of life. The cycles of nature reflect this. So does our faith. Good Friday grieving surrenders to Easter Sunday joyfulness. In the Creed we are about to pray together, we say: “The pattern of our life will be the pattern of Jesus: through suffering and death to resurrection.” Pray these words well. Then, and only then, will our grieving turn to joy. We have Jesus' own words on it: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted!” AMEN!

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