Fifteen years ago, on a joy filled afternoon, Meabh and Sebastien, together with all the family, came to this Church and carried Nora to the Baptismal Font. There, with great confidence, they prayed that God would send his Holy Spirit to dwell within Nora.
And she was indeed a bearer of that Spirit, evidenced in her gentleness and her innocence. Nora was very special, she brought so much joy to Meabh and Sebastien, to her sister, Innes, and to Maurice her brother, and to those of the wider family circle.
She, as we all know, depended greatly on others but, Nora in turn, gifted others with immeasurable love and joy; before such an ability we can only feel gratitude. Today we return to St. Brigid’s united in the unspeakable pain of Nora’s tragic death, united too in wordless sympathy for Nora’s family. I ask myself, as surely you must do, “What is the meaning of this terrible pain that has been inflicted on Nora’s family?”
We have, have we not, found ourselves wondering if God is good and has for us the love that no human love can match, why then is there such suffering in our world? We do not understand, and our stumbling words are so terribly inadequate.
The heartfelt cry of the Psalmist keeps coming to mind: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord, Lord, hear my voice. O let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleading.” (Ps. 129) Those very words encourage me to raise my voice in complaint and say; “Lord, for ten days the world was united with Meabh and Sebastien imploring that you be attentive to the voice of our pleading. But our prayer for Nora’s safe return was not answered. We simply ask “why?” “Why, O Lord, why? Where are you in these the darkest of days?”
Yet, even as I voice my complaint my eyes drift to the Crucifix and my ears hear yet again the anguished cry of Jesus from that Cross, “My God, my God, why have you deserted me?” (Mt.27:47)
And I am reminded immediately that the cry of Jesus from the Cross, while one of deep distress, was not one of despair. I hear him say to us in this moment, “Trust in God still, and trust in me.” (Jn.14:1) We know that God did not intervene to save his own Son from a cruel and apparently pointless death. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and the friends of Jesus who stood with her beneath the Cross, were just as devastated as Meabh and Sebastien and their family are today.
But Jesus’ trust was not in vain; he was not abandoned to death, nor his mother and friends to desolation. Neither does God abandon us. The resurrection is God’s assurance that death does not have the last word.
In the pain of this moment, in the shadow of Nora’s death, we raise our eyes to the Crucifix. Christian faith does not give us, in this life, the answers to all our questions, but it does give us the conviction that we have a future; life doesn’t end in nothingness – Nora’s life is now “hidden with Christ in God” (Col.3:3); we entrust her now into the Lord’s arms there to be eternally caressed by that Divine gaze of love.
We who grieve for Nora hold her memory in love believing that all the bonds of love and affection which bind us together throughout our lives do not unravel with death.
A holocaust survivor from Auschwitz told how he survived in the midst of horrendous suffering; he said, “I grasped a great secret……..salvation is through love and in love. I understood how someone who has nothing left in this world still may know bliss…” (cf Victor Frankl, Man’s search for meaning) Meabh and Sebastien, Innes and Maurice, remember Nora’s love for you, and know that she still loves you, and as you continue to love her, love one another.
The bond of love holds strong, not because we practice it as a duty, but because it is our destiny. Love is the reality of our future glimpsed even in the incompleteness and messiness of our present lives – as one might glimpse a reflection in a mirror.
This is enough to urge us on to keep practising the art of love until that day when we all meet in Christ, and behold face-to-face the one who is Love. (cf Cor.13) The Evangelist tells us, “God is love” (Jn.4:8)
My friends, if we leave here to-day with a renewed conviction that in the end “love bears all things….endures all things” (1Cor.13:7), then Nora, this most special child, this most loved and loving child, has endowed us with an extraordinary parting gift. Amen.
Source: The Irish News