Our Sunday Vesper prayer group lost a member this past week – Miss Roberta Little was called home to our heavenly Father.
I don’t know about you; but Jesus’ final words in the Gospel today: ‘So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ Gives me chills. How am I going to measure up to such a high mark? How can I possibly hope to meet that desire, that expectation? But if we look at who Jesus is taking to, we can see that it is possible. True, Jesus is talking to me, but He is also talking to each of you. Christ is talking to the community of believers. Christ understands our weakness, He understands that His call to conversion, for an individual, is an impossible mission; so He has given to each of us a community to help with our journey.
We are born into the Mystical Body, through Baptism individually – but we are given this gift through community. No one can baptize themselves – they need others. We journey through life and strive to grow in our faith, through community. We rely on each other, to correct, to encourage, to enlighten, to teach us what the Lord has revealed; and we especially rely on each other’s prayers. Through this community action of witness and prayer we can, together, join with the Holy Trinity in a journey that leads to our heavenly home – there is strength, physical and spiritual, in community – there is love.
But to view this as an earthly community would be to narrow it to here and now, and this reduces our understanding of family, community, to such a small few. Holy Mother Church has proclaimed that our family is much, much larger than those who are alive, those on the earthly journey. Our family is here on earth, those in heaven, those in purgatory, and sadly those in hell.
Our prayers for each other reach past the limits of this earthly reality, it stretches to purgatory and to heaven. Those in heaven have no need of prayers on their behalf but they can pray for us. Those in purgatory need our prayer just as we need theirs – through their purgation they can and will offer prayers for our wellbeing. We are in constant dialog with this family of Christ – we are never alone.
This should give us comfort, especially in these days with the passing of Miss Roberta; we are not cut off from our sister. Her efforts in the Mystical Body for those she loves hasn’t ended, hasn’t even changed – she helps us through her prayers – her love. Our efforts haven’t changed either, we pray for her and all those who have preceded us, and we ask for her and their prayer as well.
As we go through a period of mourning we should realize that, as painful as it is, it is a good thing. We loved and we lost, that is good and holy. The only way to keep from this pain we feel is to not know love; be numbed like Satan and that, of course, is hell on earth. Through this period of mourning and pain we need to remember that love reigns supreme and we need to keep communicating with our beloved sister and our community with prayer. In this way we help each other achieve what we prayed for at Mass in the Collect: that, always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to God. – that we can ‘be perfect, just as our heavenly Father is perfect.’ Remembering always that we are not alone.