For I know that my Redeemer lives… These words were proclaimed at my sister’s memorial service 20+ years ago by her close and longtime childhood friend. They are usually part of the First Reading on All Soul’s Day and every time I hear them, my heart feels a pang of sorrow slice through it. I could hardly breathe that day. I remember standing at the pulpit, looking out at the mourners gathered, seeing the pain on their faces, and wondering if I could get through the Second Reading from Romans that says nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.
Job knew the truth – his redeemer – my Redeemer – lives and on the last day he would see God face-to-face – and so will I. Job has everything stripped away from him that is near and dear to his heart. Every attachment is destroyed. His friends come to his assistance but they do not understand. As much as they try to offer consolation, they miss what is needed. Job rails against God until God reminds Job of his creaturehood. I may not always like what happens in life. I may get angry with God about the hand that people are dealt but in the end I know that my Redeemer lives. This is enough for me, as it was for Job.
On this holy Feast Day, I remember my sister. I think of my beloved grandmother who taught me so much about being faithful. The other day as I was unpacking I came across the cross that used to hang in her home. It is one of two things that I have actually hung on the wall in the new place. It feels right to have a piece of her here with me. At mass today, my mind conjured up a number of faces that have disappeared from this earth and are now with our Redeemer. As my mind tends to wander these days, I wondered when my name will be placed in the urn at the front of my church community and whose heart will feel the pang of pain on All Soul’s Day.
This day though I received good news. The latest blood test shows that despite having cancer that I am well, all things considered. In fact, some of the results show that I am improved from a year ago when I was so sick. When I saw my oncologist, she said that I looked great, that phrase that everybody says. I do appreciate it when I hear it from the doctors though. She has approved a missions trip in January. I reminded her that the timeframe that I am to go away was originally given as my expiration date. She laughed, put her fingers on her nose and wiggled them at me, saying she loves it when her patients prove her wrong. I am grateful that I am doing so well and not yet joining all those souls on my mind today and my Redeemer. Thanks be to God!
What souls are you missing today?
Does your Redeemer live?
Beloved Redeemer, I know that you live and on the last day I will see you face to face. Redeemer, thank you for your grace and mercy, today and always. Amen.