Whenever I am preparing for a trip, while I’m retrieving suitcases from the basement, I always look around at the “stuff” stacked up on shelves, tabletops, and my desk. Along with taking this mental inventory of “stuff” the same question pops into my head, “God forbid something happens to us on this trip, what would our family think about all this “stuff” while settling our estate?” Inevitably these thoughts result in my cleaning out more “stuff” upon my return home, just in case the next time doesn’t end as well. My apologies for being a bit macabre.
The suitcases were for an unplanned trip to Atlanta. Juanita and I went for the funeral of her uncle. His death took everyone by surprise, despite health struggles for the past couple of years and numerous trips to the hospital. Juanita’s uncle was a God-fearing man who valued and respected life, so much so he refused to sign a “Do Not Resuscitate” order each admission to the hospital. His most recent time in the hospital included a month in the Intensive Care Unit, during which at one point he “coded” but was revived.
As in the past, Juanita’s uncle recovered and was sent home. Then, as if God said, “You have fought the good fight…”, Juanita’s uncle went to bed one evening last week and unexpectedly peacefully died in his sleep. During her uncle’s funeral service, his son spoke about how he and his father left nothing unsaid. He admitted he would love to have his father back for another hug, and to say yet again, “I love you.” But Juanita’s cousin was at peace with knowing he had a right relationship with his father. There were no regrets of having missed an opportunity to share his feelings, most especially his love, with his father before his passing.
Our readings this weekend are all about having a right relationship with our heavenly Father. We read in Sirach the choice is ours to follow God’s commandments or not. St. Paul tells the Corinthians that the wisdom of our Father is unchanging, that it spans the ages. In the Gospel Jesus affirms the wisdom of the Father’s commandments, elaborating on them with authority only the Son of God could. Out of love for us, Jesus tells us what we need to do to have a right relationship with the Father.
Juanita’s cousin was not caught off guard by his father’s unexpected death. He had done what needed to be done to be in a right relationship with his dad. Jesus tells us what we need to do to have a right relationship with the Father. There is no need for us to be caught off guard. It is our choice. As I returned the suitcases to their spot on the shelves I looked around at all the “stuff.” The basement remains a work in progress.
In the Peace of Christ,