Wednesday, 24 February 2016


"BURY THE DEAD" is the last in the list of Corporal Works of Mercy. Well may we ask, "Where is the mercy in burying the dead?" Funerals take place through the arrangements made between the bereaved, the funeral parlour and, maybe, with a minister of religion.
A funeral commences once it is known that a person has died. Friends and family converge to comfort, console one another and pray together. It does happen that those who long have not been on speaking terms are brought together by grief.

Martha wept at the tomb of her brother, Lazarus; her sister wept in the privacy of their home. When Jesus wept for Lazarus, Martha and Mary, people remarked,

"See how much He loved."
There's something very personal in the way each of us handles sorrow in his own way. This should be respected rather than be the subject of mean-minded gossip!

Martha, in the midst of her sorrow, found the faith, the courage, to exclaim,
"I know my brother will rise again at the resurrection on the last day," (Jn.11). We, as Christians, must bring such confident expectation to the burying of our own dead.

Building on this Jesus then took Martha still further,

"I am the resurrection. Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
Jesus, in making an enormous, extravagant, claim for Himself, challenges Martha,
"Do you believe this?" "'Yes, Lord,' she said, 'I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, the one who was to come into this world.'"

These weighty words of Jesus and the forceful response of Martha must be at the core of any Christian burial. Through the hymns we choose, the sermons we preach we, as Church, should align ourselves with the death, resurrection, and entry into glory of Jesus.
Following an early Christian practice we pray for the dead - that God would purify, cleanse them of their sinfulness; that in His loving mercy, He would relieve them of penance still to be endured because of their sins. Through our loving prayer we play our part in their preparation for an eternity with God – their entering the Holy of Holies.

For us Christians a burial should be a deeply religious event reflecting our conviction:
‘WE COME FROM GOD –at the moment of our being conceived in our mother’s womb;
with His accompanying and assisting us
WE RETURN TO GOD – when we die…

We conclude this reflection with these words of St. Paul to the people of Thessalonika,

" We want you to be quite certain, brothers, about those who have fallen asleep, to make sure that you do not grieve for them, as others do who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and that in the same way God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus." (I Thess. 4.13).
Let us ensure the funerals we celebrate have
This is what we Christians are to live by, this is what we are to die with!

Let us Pray,

Brother Jesus, when someone near to us, dear to us, has just died
something within us has died; part of our very selves has died. They were part of our lives - as we were part of theirs. Loneliness, emptiness, desolation, overwhelm us. It is at that moment that we begin to bury the deceased.
It is at that moment that we need someone to be with us, to befriend us, console us, as you, Jesus, were there with Martha and Mary. In you and through you they found peace, such as the world cannot give.
We pray that in such times when are heart-broken you will be present to us through your disciples - our families and friends - to console us.
We pray that you Jesus will inspire us to comfort and console others in their grief.
We pray that in the preparations for the burial we will show the respect and reverence for one who was, and always will be, a beloved child of God; whose body was, and always will be, a Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus, we pray that everything in the funeral liturgy will reflect words you spoke to your closest friends,

‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust in God, trust also in me. In my Father's house there are many places to live in; otherwise I would have told you. I am going now to prepare a place for you, and after I have gone and prepared you a place, I shall return to take you to myself, so that you may be with me where I am.". Amen

For the sake of His Sacred Passion have mercy on us and on the whole world.
Peter Clarke O.P

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