Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Two funerals

Sunday, I saw a Facebook note from a young man from a parish village who is now in the US. He has recently reunited with his brother who’s been in the us for several years. 

Sunday morning he posted an image of his grandmother who had just died. As I read his post, I wondered if I’d be called upon for the funeral – since the pastor is away. On Monday I was supposed to go to Santa Rosa for some medical exams and a doctor’s appointment.

Sure enough, a message arrived in the late afternoon asking me if I could come. My question was when and how. They even said that they could make other arrangements, but I told them I’d make it. I know the family and the village and thought that it was very important to get there. We managed to work things out.

I went early to Santa Rosa for the exams and hurried back to the village, with plenty of time to spare.

As we were waiting, in the room of the house where the coffin, a woman approached me and asked me if we could also include the cremains of her twenty-four year old son in the service. Of course, I said. 

But it was much more complicated. Her son’s body had been found two years ago in the US, near Chicago, with his papers, but US authorities had to verify that it was his body. It took two years and at times she thought – hoped – that it had not been his body, but she had no idea what happened to him. Finally, last week, the box of his ashes arrived – and she finally had closure. 

But two years of insecurity and worry leave wounds that are open and sore.
Several times during the prayers I was close to tears. 

But I was almost bowled over when the little choir sang the “Lord, have mercy” of the Nicaraguan Campesino Mass.
Cristo, Cristo Jesús, identifícate con nosotros. 
Señor, Señor, mi Dios, identifícate con nosotros. 
Cristo, Cristo Jesús, Solidarízate 
no con la clase opresora que exprime y devora a la comunidad 
sino con el oprimido con el pueblo mío, sediento de paz. 
Christ, Christ Jesus, identify with us. Lord, Lord, my God, identify with us. Christ, Christ Jesus, identify with us. Christ, Christ Jesus, be in solidarity with us, Not with the oppressing class which crushes and devours the community, But with the oppressed, my people, thirsting for peace.
This version of “Lord, have mercy” is not used much here in Honduras. Probably because it is quite revolutionary (and I like it, as I like the “Lord, have mercy” of the Misa Salvadoreña). 

This hymn reminds us of how God made flesh totally identifies with the poor and suffering. 

What an important message, when the poor are not recognized. 

As I preached, I could not help reminding us in that room that, in the midst of the pain and the sorrows, Christ identifies with us, with them. We have a God who is in solidarity with us – becoming one with us, becoming poor with the poor.

As I write this, I am thinking  of the passage from Matthew that I often use with the sick: "Come to me, you who are burdened." I used it Tuesday visiting a sick man who is near death - barely conscious. 

But I think of the box with the ashes of the young man. 

When I picked it up, I found that it was much heavier than I thought it would be. Perhaps it reflects the heaviness, the sadness of the mother and the grandmother. 

So much pain, so much suffering – I don’t know if we could get through it without a God who identifies with our pain.

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