“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and petition; and they shall look on him whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they shall grieve over him as one grieves over a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10
It seems that the older we get, the more we mourn. Loss has become an unavoidable and unwelcomed companion.
Last week, I buried a dear friend, whose family I’ve known for about 40 years. Her family and friends gathered together to remember her in prayer, to shed tears of grief and to comfort one another with faith that defined my friend’s life.
Mourning connects us at the deepest level of our existence. The first reading for today’s Mass reminds us that there is grace in mourning. For those who believe that all life is sacred, a gift from our Loving God, then the earthly loss of a life here on earth is to be mourned “as one grieves over a firstborn.”
My sister is a Bereavement Minister at a parish. Every week and every month, she comforts the dying and consoles those who come to pay their last respects. Sometimes she is called to console large families with a good number of friends. Other times, there is only a few who gather. Some who come are clearly bothered and unattached to the reality of dying. And yet, she is there, caring and praying and wiping away the tears of those who mourn. It does not matter if this dying person belongs to the parish or not, if he or she is well known or not, if they are poor or wealthy. Death comes to all and she mourns for them all.
Death touches our lives every day. Most of the time, it is the death of strangers and at other times, those who have been part of our historical journey. We hear about the deaths of immigrants crossing waters or crossing deserts. We hear about many dying at one time, and the many who die, one at a time, in every state and every country.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls us to mourn for his death on the Cross. We are called “to look upon him whom they have pierced” so we can mourn him. From his side will flow “a fountain to purify from sin and uncleanness.” And on the third day, our mourning will turn into Easter Joy.
In our second reading, Paul says, “Through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus.” May our mourning be a sacred mourning, a moment of grace, a moment of communion with our God of Life and the person who died, regardless of the place and circumstances of death.
May the Sacred Heart of Jesus teach us how to love every one of his brothers and sisters, our brothers and sisters!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Christ the King Community in Citrus Heights, California.