I missed mass over the weekend due to unforeseen circumstances and thought I’d go on Tuesday instead. I had my two year old with me in her pram and couldn’t get into the side chapel as it was too wide. Morning prayers were being held before the mass so I sat with my little one outside.
As I sat a few people came and went, showing interesting in my daughter, smiling, happy. I saw the priest and we acknowledged each other before he went to welcome a young man dressed in a dark suit. I didn’t hear the conversation, but the exchange looked pleasant,
The mass seemed to start next door and as it did so a coffin was brought through the main church, into the room of smiling people. I was dumbfounded, I didn’t know this was a funeral! Here I sat with my two year old and lovely though she is she is always on the verge of making a hullabaloo.
Do I stay? Surely yes, we need to bury our dead. There wasn’t many people here in this tiny chapel; surely we are the church, bound together as one. I didn’t know who was in the coffin, not even there name or their sex. But brother or sister to me they were. They are.
After about ten minutes as my child grew a little more fractious, desperate to be let out and explore, I decided I would slip away.
We were in the car driving away when it suddenly hit me; I’d been so shocked as there was no sadness there. No tears.
Let me explain I live in a country we’re English is not the first language spoken and although I can speak my adopted country’s language the difference between the two means that I am much more aware of non-verbal communication. This is why the funeral was such a shock. What I witnessed, what I felt, was a sense of peace. In fact, dare I say it, it was a peace filled with such warmth and, actually yes, joy. I had been so comforted as I sat there, welcomed and what I now see as an almost joyful atmosphere.
Let me be clear. I believe in God. But heaven……
As I drove down a hill away from that church I was startled by a sudden realisation. Of course it felt joyful; this person was in heaven. I had no doubt about it. He or she were in heaven.
Now today and the horrific images of the fire in London. There seems to have been so much sadness, so much disaster lately. The stories of the people throwing their children to safety…….my heart weeps for them and there is no doubt that people reading this post will think to themselves “Where was your God in this?”
There is an answer. He’s weeping.
He’s weeping at the lack of care for the poor in our midst. Yes, I’m talking about the minister who sat on the report about this tinderbox waiting to blow.
He’s weeping at the hypocrisy of those who demand the governement do something, when their pockets are full. I know many gave shelter and food to those in need in this time of crisis, but this needs to be done all the time.
He’s weeping at a nation that has abandoned and made sex their god. When you’re enslaved to your own passions how can you look around at the people in need?
He’s weeping at those with no faith, so they rely on money to give them worth and deny it from their fellow man.
I could go on.
I do know something though. God hasn’t abandoned us. We’ve abandoned God and our fellow man as a result.
Eternal rest, grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace, Amen.
Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us. Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us.