My brother, Dan, would have been 49 years old today. He was just shy of turning 23 when he was killed.
His suddenly being taken from family and friends threw open what Jesus today calls the “whitewashed tombs” and the “adorned memorials.” I look back at that horrific time and see now how his death gave me a new chance at life. Like many of us, I suspect, I like to have things look good. I don’t like messiness. I like things in their place. But Dan’s death was messy. It was not the way it was supposed to be.
What I mean by having a new chance at life is that all the messiness, the brokenness, the hurts that I stuffed into tombs deep within myself and then whitewashed to pretty them all up, they could not endure Dan’s death. A wise priest once asked me, “What would Jesus have to do if you let him into your life?” If everything is nice and neat, all things in their place, what do you need Jesus for? My brother’s death forced me to open those tombs to allow the mercy and love of God to enter my life.
We all learned as kids that Jesus died for our sins. He died that we might live. He experienced the messiness of human suffering and death so that we might know that the suffering and messiness of our lives can be redeemed and healed. I truly believe that God would have helped me uncover the whitewashed tombs of my life at some point. But I do know God brought life to me from Dan’s death. And this I know on his birthday, he continues to live. His spirit urges me to invite Jesus into those dark and broken places in my life so I can live life authentically, honestly and passionately, messiness and all.
Robert Hotz is a consultant with American City Bureau, Inc. and is the Director of The Passion of Christ: The Love That Compels Campaign for Holy Cross Province.