This reading from the gospel of St. John has so much to say to us about death and the separation of the beloved Bernadette we experience today.
Death evokes different responses in us. In general our response to death is one of denial. Most men and women live a life of denial of death. That means, if we someone dying or dead, we think that it is his fate not ours. We try to forget is as soon as possible and get on with life. After all it has not affected me. I am not going to die, not so soon anyway. This is the most common reaction to death. This was my reaction too before my mother died.
But when someone close to us, when someone whom we loved so much, when someone who meant so much to us dies, we are deeply hurt and our heart is troubled and we begin to question everything. What is life? Why is death? Where is God? All these questions rise out of our inability to cope up with death. It is in this context the Gospel today comes alive and gives meaning to our death and separation we feel.
It is from the fare-well discourse just before the last supper. After this talk and meal Jesus is going to go to the garden of Gethsemane and you know what happened from there. The disciples also knew what was going to happen. This had filled them with great sadness as we experience it today as the death of Bernadette Kane. There was a great doom and gloom in the atmosphere in the room.
Jesus wanted to change that atmosphere. So Jesus says, “Come on cheer up! Death is not annihilation. It is only the unwise who think like that. I am only going away for a better place. I am only going to our true home in heaven. You may live here for 50, 60 70 or even 100 years. But then you have to go; go to your true homeland. You have to go to your true home. If I am going there before you, it is only to prepare you a place. You are going to come there to be with me where I am.
Friends, these are the same truths that are revealed to us today as we are gathered here to bid fare-well to our beloved Bernadette Kane.
1. Do not let your hearts be troubled unnecessarily with doubt and fear
2. Trust in God more in these situations.
3. Bernadette’s going away is not an end of her. It’s the beginning of her new innings in her life. She has gone to her true home. I don’t know whether you have seen him, but I often see a man on Lewisham High Street who goes around saying to people, there are no hospitals in heaven, there are no doctors in heaven, there are no nurses in heaven and there are no ambulances in heaven. What he meant to say was, there is no more suffering and there is no more pain. That is heaven. And it is to this place of rest and happiness Bernadette is gone. Let us assist her now through our prayers, so that Christ can make up for what is lacking in Bernadette’s life.