Wednesday the 11th Week in Ordinary Time
In Chapter Four of the Rule, Saint Benedict tells his monks, “Yearn for everlasting life with holy desire. Day by day remind yourself that you are going to die” (RB 4.46-47). Today’s first reading offers us a wonderful example of accompaniment in the dying process. Elijah is preparing to depart from this world and Elisha refuses to abandon him. “As the Lord lives, and as you live, I will not leave you” (2 Kings 2:2). Human mortality is messy. The death process is distressing and frightful. No one should be left to go it alone. I was with my mom as she entered the final stages of her life. I remember asking her if she had any fears. Her answer was simple and to the point. “I have never done this before.” As I listened to her, I was overwhelmed by the realization that I was about to lose the woman who was not only my mother but who had also become my best friend and confidante. Reminiscent of Elisha’s pledge, “I will not leave you,” I told my mother that I would be with her as far as the door and that dad and the rest of her deceased loved ones would escort her across the threshold into the presence of the King. No one should face death alone.
Elijah mounted the fiery chariot alone, but the affection offered by his devoted disciple must have been a great support. The isolation we have endured as a result of the pandemic has made some of us more aware of our need for human contact and interaction. Many of us are dealing with unresolved grief stemming from the fact that we were not able to be with a loved one at the time of his or her death or attend the funeral. Elijah’s journey to the river Jordan is an illustration of the long journey we must be willing to take passing from isolation to communion. As the anxiety and threats of COVID recede, we must be willing to journey out of the darkness into the light of day. Having been forced into isolation, we need to discover a way of developing healthy and life-giving relationships. We have to be willing to dream dreams and envision a better society. Through faith in Christ, we can become caring human beings.
“The truth is that only in the mystery of the incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light. For Adam, the first man was a figure of Him Who was to come,(20) namely Christ the Lord. Christ, the final Adam, by the revelation of the mystery of the Father and His love, fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear… He Who is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15),(21) is Himself the perfect man. To the sons of Adam, He restores the divine likeness which had been disfigured from the first sin onward” (Gaudium et Spes, #22).
Instead of yielding to impatience or despondency in the face of overwhelming challenges, we should turn our thoughts to the goodness of the Lord towards those who trust in Him. I love you Jesus, my love. Fill my heart with faith, hope, and charity. Help me never sin again. Grant that I might love you always and then do with me what you will.