Zechariah 2:5-9, 14-15a
"Pay attention to what I am telling you.
The Son of Man is to be handed over to men."
Luke’s Gospel reading today tells us that when Jesus said this to his disciples, they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask. Jesus knew, he knew of the horrific suffering and unbearable pain that lay ahead for him and yet, he does not run and hide from it. Jesus put his life, and death, completely into the hands of His Father. Jesus knew what His death meant for us; he knew that salvation and the glory of eternal life with His Father awaited him, and us.
In October 2004, a close friend of mine was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of stomach cancer. She was only 43 years old, married and had four young children. By the time the cancer was diagnosed, it had overtaken almost her entire stomach. She couldn’t eat more than a teaspoon of broth at a time. The doctors tried chemotherapy, unsuccessfully, and surgery was not an option. Finally on a Tuesday in early March 2005, she was put into Hospice care and passed away that Friday.
I look at the example my friend Mary Ellen set in the face of death. She did not run and hide either. She knew she was going to die and leave her husband, children, friends and other family members behind. Of course, she had to get the technical aspects of dying in order: house and insurance paperwork had to be handled; the kids had to be settled and understand what lay ahead for them without mom, her husband had to be reassured he would be okay without her. I cannot imagine what she thought as she proceeded to take care of these things.
The courage and bravery Mary exhibited as she knowingly faced her own death was a true testament to her faith. She put everything in God’s hands because like Jesus, she knew that after the pain and suffering and damage the cancer had wreaked on her body, her salvation and the glory of eternal life with the Father in Heaven awaited her. She is at peace.
Claire Smith is the director of Communications at the Province Development Office in Chicago, Illinois.