Resurrecting After Grief

After six weeks of Lent, we are finally seeing the fruits of our contemplative fasting and prayer.  We are now entering a very new phase which will accompany us for 50 days until Pentecost, when we become open to the Holy Spirit from within.  

On Good Friday, we were witness to one of the most abusive, horrifying and tragic deaths. How could it be that Jesus Christ was taken?  And yet, so soon after, something so unexpected and mysterious occurred which has become our core thinking… that there is no death, that death is the gateway to eternal light, to the soul life where we return to after this transient journey that we call life.

A Reading from the Gospel of John

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So, the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside, and Thomas was with them.  Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.” Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Sun rising

Jesus appears to the disciples and by explicitly revealing his wounds, reassures them without a doubt that this is he. But Thomas, who hears that Jesus has come, rather than being present and witness to this event, refuses to believe it. His faith, which cannot extend to the invisible, locks him into a state of troubled doubt due to deep grief. 

In appearing to Thomas, Jesus, while showing him that this really is he, exposes the doubt that hinders Thomas’s faith.  This is expressed in one of his most remembered quotes: blessed are those who have not seen and have believed. These words speak to the good news that despite the sadness in loss, we are never abandoned by those who leave us. In this passage, Thomas discovers a God who does not give up on him no matter how many questions he asks or how much he doubts or needs to discover more.

With that, we invite you to take a moment to look into yourselves and contemplate the following:

Reflective Questions to Ponder

  • Can you see your loved one/s who has passed on?
  • Do you ever find yourself doubting this or questioning if this is possible?
  • Has your experience of grief been shaped by the continuing bond with your loved one or the absence of this feeling?

Final Words

What the Paschal mystery teaches us is that whilst death is inevitable, so is resurrection. Grief likewise is inevitable, but resurrection helps us restore faith in the promise of continuing the bonds with our loved ones…  ”Life after death” and so integrate our grief.

The integration of grief is a lengthy process that needs to be respected for its deep transformative quality.  Sometimes we may be so overwhelmed and consumed with agony that we don’t hear God’s voice speaking to us, and we don’t see God if he doesn’t appear.  The invitation is always there to see and feel into life after death and once we see, if we do, it is almost impossible to unsee.  The question is, though, can we believe it?  The question is, can we, too, be born to new life over and over again as we rise from challenges to embrace life filled with the spirit of God?