Jesus Wept: A Requiem Mass Reflection

Reflection by Fr. Benedict Ahiamojie at the Requiem Mass for the Deceased Parents of Priests of Abuja Archdiocese. 11 September 2020

If love could make live and tears could turn back time, the dead would never die and the departed would wake up from their sleep.

On this day, His Grace, Archbishop Ayau Kaigama has gathered us together, that we may be united in love and tears as some of our brothers in the presbyterate of Abuja mourn members of their families. We are gathered here in solidarity with Fathers Peter Atsewe, Samuel Tarvihi, James Akpamo, Emmanuel Ejimonu, Emmanuel Balla, Mark Obeten Okoi, Moses Jimbili and Ronald Awuhe. May the Lord who is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit give you Consolation and Peace.

Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden tree and from that day, sin entered the world and death became the enemy that all men must face. Death has no friend. Even when we see our loved ones suffer before they pass on, and there is this queer wish of “let them go instead of this prolonged suffering”.

… what we really want is for the suffering on the bed of sickness to end, not death. Nobody loves death. Even God could not look upon the death of His own Son, such that when the Christ died on the Cross, God frowned, and the earth was covered in darkness. God cried and when his tears hit the ground, the earth quaked and mountains were split apart; the graves of many who had died were torn open and the bodies of the saints who slept arose (Mt.27: 51 – 52). There is nothing that God does in vain. God does not even cry in vain.

St. John the Evangelist recounts that Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus. He wept, not because Lazarus was dead. He wept, not because he missed Lazarus. He wept, even though he knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead. So why did Jesus weep? Jesus wept because he saw the tears of Mary. He sympathized with her. Sympathy: from the combination of two Greek words: Sym and Pathos, which combined, mean to “suffer with”. Our God is not indifferent to Human Suffering. For we have a High Priest who able to sympathize with our weaknesses and has been tempted in every way like us (Heb 4: 14 – 15).

So Jesus says to Mary, the sister of Lazarus: “Take me to where you have laid him”. Jesus wants us to usher him to the front row seat at our mourning. He wants to be at the core of what strikes our hearts with grief. In Heaven, O precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his faithful. But here on earth, Jesus is the Mourner in Chief. Man of Sorrows, familiar with grief. It is His divine pleasure to take away our pain and bear our suffering. He tells us at his sermon on the Mountain: blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. May this blessed assurance become the reality of our lives.

Scripture testifies that “The sons of a man are like arrows in the hand of a warrior. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be disappointed when he is confronted at the gates” (Ps. 127: 4-5). We are grateful to the deceased parents who nurtured their sons to become priests. Their legacy lives on in their children. We, in union with the bereaved priests pray to God for pardon that as they approach, the Holy Gates of the Eternal Jerusalem may be flung wide open. May every work they have done while they were alive; the fervent prayers of We and their Sons who offer sacrifice in the courts of God, and above all, the Infinite Mercy of God which we all rely on, win them Immortality.

John, in the book of the Apocalypse says, “on the Mountain of God, it shall never be night again, and we will not need lamplight nor sunlight, because the Lord God will be shinning on us, and with Him, we shall reign forever and ever”. May the prophecy of the Prophet Isaiah be our lot: On this Mountain, God will wipe away every tear and destroy death forever.

May Maria, Mater Dolorosa, that is Mary, Mother of Sorrows, who’s Feast day we shall celebrate in a few days (15th of September) Pray for us.

We pray for all our departed family members who departed this year; for our departed parishioners; for all who have fallen in death in this year during this pandemic and we pray specially for Mama Justina Balla, Mama Esther Tarvihi, Mama Elizabeth Atsewe, Mama Magareth Ejimonu, Pa Obeten Ekpat Okoi, Pa Fidelis Akpamo, Pa Joseph Jimbili, Engr. Peter Awuhe.

Eternal rest, grant unto them o Lord, and let Perpetual Light shine upon them. May they rest in Peace, Amen

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