33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/World Day of the Poor — Pastor’s Message for Annual Parish Mass for Deceased

14 NOV 2021: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time/World Day of the Poor/Mass for the Parish Deceased

This Sunday around the world, Catholics commemorate the fifth annual World Day of the Poor, established by Pope Francis to bring renewed attention and care with the poor.

Here, at St. Joseph, though this Mass also focuses on our parish deceased, our experience of grief brings us into a similar level of need as the materially poor.

Along with the poor, we ache with the loss in our life, we are lonely, maybe envious of those who are not actively in grief now, who have what we lost, and we are aware of what is missing in our lives and how distant that may be.

When his young wife Virginia died at age 25, the great American author Edgar Allan Poe once wrote,  “Deep in earth, my love is lying.  And I must weep alone.”

However, this grief and this poverty enable us to discover, in new ways, the presence of God.  As Pope Francis wrote in his message for this day, “We know the suffering Christ through our own sufferings.”

Because we are all grieving at some level over these many months, this is also an opportunity to share and benefit from the solidarity and healing that can occur when we are more open to expressing our grief, and receiving the grief of others.

Whenever we open our hearts, we also open our hearts to the Spirit of God in powerful ways.

From a Christian perspective, the opposite of grief is not necessarily happiness.  Happiness that conceals grief is not realistic.  But we believe, in faith, that grief can be met with consolation.  The consolation of God is available to us in times like these – in the word of God, the rituals and gestures of the Eucharist, the shared suffering and fellowship.

And this consolation is real and gives us real hope, strength and resilience. We know that whoever we came to remember today will not be the last one we need to remember.  And we know the inevitability of our own death. May today be food for the journey.

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