Monday, December 31, 2012

On the Seventh Day of Christmas My True Love Said to Me....

I attended a funeral today—the fourth one in six weeks.

The priest who celebrated the Mass read the following "Prayer for Dying" (based on 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18) at the end of his homily:
"I know that my days are poured out from the cup; the time of my dissolution is at hand. But He who gave me my beginning is now at my ending; I have no fear.

"It is by His grace that I am bold to say: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. And I believe that the Lord, just judge that He is, will award me the crown of everlasting life.

"In that faith I have lived; in that faith I die, and I join all those who have longed for His coming—the Lord of glory in whose love is my peace."
This prayer meant for the end of a life seems also somehow appropriate for the end of a year. Read it again with that in mind.

The past 365—no, 366!—days did indeed "pour out." Not trickle, not leak, but pour. Can I say with sincerity on this eve of another year that I have "fought the good fight"? That I have "kept the faith"? Have I lived "in that faith"—a faith that has "no fear"?

What is "that faith"? Faith in what? In whom?

Faith in "He who gave me my beginning."

"He" is the one spoken of in the Gospel reading for this seventh day of Christmas, John 1:1-18:
"In the beginning was the Word.... He was in the beginning with God.... What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race.... And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory ... full of grace and truth."
What came to be through Him was the life of the man—husband, father, son, brother, coworker, friend—memorialized today. He was a light to those he loved and who loved him.

What came to be through Him was my life, and yours. In the coming 365 days (or however many of them we each still have) may we be light to those we love and who love us. Light that "shines in the darkness," light that any darkness, now or yet to be, will not overcome (John 1:5).

Amen.

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