Have you had someone close to you die? One with whom you had unfinished business?
Possibly a hurt that was never reconciled, an injustice that was never rectified, a bitterness that never softened. The pain of this can linger for a long time.
Sometimes, too, the very cause of death speaks of lack of peace: drunkenness, an overdose of drugs, depression, recklessness, suicide.
We are left saying: “If only there were another chance!”
We come now to the feasts of All Saints and All Souls. I found it helpful to explore a reflection – Privileged Communication within the Communion of Saints –
The Communion of Saints
The article begins
…Accidents, unfortunate circumstance, and the complexity of human relationships conspire so that often people die in less-than-ideal situations – angry, compromised, unforgiving, bitter, immature, unreconciled…
…Well, there is another chance. One of our wonderful, but often neglected, Christian doctrines, is our belief in the communion of the saints.
… the communion of saints is a doctrine that’s enshrined in the creed itself and it asks us to believe that we are still in vital communication with those who have died.
…To believe in the communion of saints is to believe that we can still tend to unfinished business in our relationships, even after death.
… Simply put, we can still talk to those who have died. And we can, even now, say the words of love, forgiveness, gratitude, and regret that ideally we should have spoken earlier.
… Indeed, inside the communion of saints the reconciliation that always eluded while that person was alive can now more easily take place.
… This can be an immense consolation to us. What we can’t bring to wholeness in this life can, if we are attentive to the communion of saints, be completed afterward. We still have communication, privileged communication, with our loved ones after death.
Among the marvels of that lies the fact that we still have a chance to fix the things, after death, that we were powerless to mend before death took a loved one away.
Unfinished business with Jesus
Taking these thoughts further, I realized another form of unfinished business many face. It is honoring a mother’s or a father’s “last words”. “Look after your brother”, “Take care of your mother!”
As I think of this, I think of Jesus on the cross saying to his mother, “take care of John,”… and to John …“take care of your mother”. This is perhaps the most dramatic awareness of the communion of saints.
I think it is safe to say both Mary and John honored Jesus’ last words!
Let us also remember his last words the night before he died.
Jesus last words to disciples … and us…
Do you understand what I have done? If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, then wash one another’s feet. Do this in memory of me!
Honoring Jesus’ request to take care of our sisters and brothers
I have often spoken at funerals of keeping alive the memory of another by living some aspect of that person’s life… kindness, courage, patience…
Isn’t that what Jesus asked when he said, Do this in memory of me!
Some questions for this All Saints and All Souls Day
- What is my understanding of the communion of saints?
- Am I conscious of what Jesus’ last words ask of me?
- Do I set limits on whose feet I will wash?