On Friday, May 22, Bishop Jaime Soto celebrated a Mass for the repose of the souls of those who have died during the Coronavirus pandemic. (For a full replay of the Mass, click here.) Below is the homily from the Mass:
At the end of today’s gospel reading, Jesus said to his disciples, “On that day you will not question me about anything.” We have not yet reached that day, for our minds are filled with many questions. Our hearts are filled with uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has cast a cloud over our lives and the whole world. Everyone has been afflicted with the consequences of this devastating plague. There is a shadow that darkens our days, a fog that clouds our vision.
We gather for this Mass to pray for all those who have died of COVID-19. May they have eternal rest. We ask the Good Shepherd to wrap his arms around those who mourned for the loved ones who have passed.
We remember all those who have died during this pandemic. The mourning of their families and friends was even more sorrowful because they could not accompany them in their final moments or extend to them all rites of burial due to the necessary precautions against a further spread of this confounding disease. While the mind might comprehend, the heart just aches; aches for the loss of loved one, longs to give one more touch of affection.
These past months have made us all more vulnerable. We have come to see how fragile each of us is, how fragile and tenuous our relationships can be. It is then that we grasp at our relationships more tightly. We want to hold them more nearly and dearly.
These sentiments may seem foolish in the face of death’s finality, but the Lord’s assures us, “you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (Jn. 16.20-23) Jesus spoke these words to his disciples on the night before he died. Three days later he fulfilled his promise, coming into their grieving midst with the soothing words, “Peace be with you.” Divine mercy overcame human mortality.
The grief and sorrow are the tears of love. While death pains and strains this love, it will not overcome love’s endurance. The Lord’s resurrection promises this to us. His mercy consoles us. His undying love sustains us, keeps our relationships alive by holding all our deceased brothers and sisters close to him and keeping us under the shelter of his wings.
With faith, we persist in longing for what our dearly departed already know, to taste and see the goodness of the Lord. While waiting to share that moment with our loved ones is a physical-distancing hard to endure, may the assuring words of Christ bring to us a nearness of grace and joy that we can know even now.
This joy is the fruit of the enduring communion of love with which the Lord Jesus holds us together with all our departed loved ones in an eternal embrace. May the Lord’s words to the disciples echo in our hearts today. “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.” (Jn. 16.20-23)