This weekend’s Gospel is very poignant for me as I believe it is for all of us. As you know, our faith communities and myself personally have been part of many funerals since the beginning of 2023.
This past week I was in Beverly, Massachusetts to preside at the funeral of my friend of 42 years. Armand was a beautiful soul who deeply loved his family, friends and faith. Armand loved his vocation of education. He enjoyed meeting everyone and doing his best to see that any student received all they were deserving of as a beloved human being.
I was blessed to visit Armand the week before he died and to join in prayer and last rites with his family. Armand carried the cross of dementia/Alzheimer’s at the closure of his earthly life. It was a gify that it was now his time to be brought home by the Lord to join his beloved wife, Annie, and other dear friends and family who journeyed ahead of him.
The same week of visiting Armand, I was also with my dear friend Marla. Marla and Armand were neighbors and their families were/are the best of friends. I was equally blessed in friendship to have Marla part of my life for the same 42 years as Armand.
Marla’s husband, Bob, was a great man who died way, way too young of cancer. Bob loved the ocean and sailing. Marla would humor his longing to sail but loved it when I would visit because she could stay on land and “Rob ever so willingly set out to sail with Bob.” My heart swells with memories of ocean breezes and being with Bob.
Marla not only lost her husband but some years later their oldest son, Brian, who died unexpectedly. It was determined to be a sleeping disorder. Joining Marla and her living son, Kevin, we will once again rely on our faith to grieve, mourn, and celebrate the lives we so loved.
I share this with you because today in our Gospel, when Jesus meets his beloved friends, Martha and Mary, He meets them in their grief and joins them with His own tears. In their conversation, Jesus says to Martha, “Your brother will rise.” Martha says, “I know he will rise, in the resurrectoin on the last day.” Jesus then told her, “I am the resurrectoin and life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Armand and Marla answered Jesus’s question in their own lives. Their faith never faltered. I remember as if it was yesterday when Marla’s husband died so young, she said to me, “I never realized how strong my faith was untli Bob died.” Then again when her son Brian died, she made that testament of her faith again.
To “BECOME…FOREVER CHANGED.” Not only for Armand, Marla and myself but for all of us. Jesus proposes the same question to each and everyone of us in our times of grief and mourning. Jesus joins us in our tears and sorrow.
I am grateful to have heard and witnessed the testimony of faith from Armand and Marla. I pray that I may affirm that belief in my own life, and when called upon to have their strength in witnessing to the promises of Jesus Christ.
I hope this week, on Monday and Tuesday, you will make it part of your schedule to be part of our Saint Catherine of Siena/Church of the Transfiguratoin Parish Lenten Retreat. We are blessed to welcome Janet Corso, a spiritual director and retreat & program presenter from Hudson Valley.
Janet comes highly recommended from our very own, Dr. Damian Zynda. Janet’s theme will be “The Slow, Brave Work of Forgiveness.”
Please join us on Monday, March 27th – 9:30 AM & 7:00 PM at Transfiguration and Tuesday, March 28th—9:30 AM & 7:00 PM at Saint Catherine’s. We will gather in the church proper. Evening sessions will be live streamed.
Next weekend, we begin our Holy Week. Please join me in these sacred days and services. Please check our bulletin and parish websites for Ɵmes and location of these prayerful moments.
We have many opportuniteis to continue to “BECOME…FOREVER CHANGED” before our Easter Sunday. Take advantage of as many of these blessings that you can. You will not be disappointed.
With ongoing prayer and blessing for you,