On one occasion, Jesus spoke thus:
“I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike.
Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.
All things have been handed over to me by my Father.
No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
The first part of this reading has always struck me as an echo of Saint John’s Gospel. And still appropriate today. We have all sorts of knowledge about human health, medicine, and even the dying process. When my brother died, some family members wanted details. Did he survive the accident? Was he aware? What internal injuries were there? What happened to his heart?
I found myself less curious about those factual things. My brother died. I didn’t feel like being wise and learned. I felt burdened with grief and loss. I wanted an encounter with Christ, not the medical examiner.
A pastoral minister will be attentive to the wide variety of approaches that mourners bring to a time of death. Some might feel that knowledge and information about death is important. Taking people where they are, that is satisfactory in itself. But a person of faith will likely want more. How can we possibly learn from the burdens of life? What will Christ teach us?
I think this reading provides ample reflection material for an effective ministry to mourners, as well as keeping the Christ-centered perspective. Christ has the answers. Not medical science. Not superstitions. Christ will give what we need, if we only turn to him and unburden ourselves.