One of the most striking lines in the homily by Fr. Jovit on Easter Sunday was ‘Through pain and suffering we are made whole again.’
As the words seeped into me I paused to think why this was sounding so true -- that too on a Sunday which is supposed to celebrate the triumph over death. Perhaps because suffering -- and inevitably death -- is a part of our lives.
Even as I write these lines I am confronted by news of the mishap at Corlim last week in which five people lost their lives. Driving down from Bombay the car veered off the road and came into the path of an oncoming vehicle.
Death is all around us. But few are prepared for it.
Easter- the festival to celebrate the rising of Jesus from the dead-- reminds us that we can only share in the joy of resurrection if we have journeyed to Golgotha – the place where He was put to death on a cross.
Though I have not been very particular about Lenten observances, the Triduum is something I hold sacrosanct. The Triduum is made up of three consecutive days, viz. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.
Holy Thursday is the celebration of the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Good Friday is the day when the passion and death of Jesus is commemorated. Christ’s sacrifice is beautifully explained in the Bible in the book of Isaiah, Chapter 53.
Holy Saturday is the day when the entire Church keeps vigil at the tomb of Jesus, silent, in grief and in prayer. The Easter midnight Mass is celebrated on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday. The service avails of natural elements viz. fire that burns and purifies; light that dispels darkness; God’s word that enlightens and empowers; water that washes and cleanses; bread and wine transformed into the body and blood of Jesus that nourishes our spirit.*
This is a time we meditate deeply upon death. The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche is a classic spiritual text which guides one through the death experience. It is divided into three sections, viz. Living; Dying; Death and Rebirth. The mid-section has practical chapters like, Heart Advice for Helping the Dying; Practices for Dying; Spiritual Help for the Dying; The Process of Dying. Death is seen as the beginning of a journey.
The wise lament neither for the living nor the dead, says the Bhagavad Gita in Chapter 2, verse 11. This is because it is believed the essence never dies. Just as the embodied soul [mortal frame] experiences the different states of the body like childhood, adulthood and old age, so will it acquire another body after death.
The mystery of pain and death confronts us deeply. We are wise to be prepared. As the sign in Konkani reads on the cemetery gate, Aiz mhaka, faleam tuka.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------*Bible Diary 2017, Claretian Publications, Bangalore; Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on 30 April 2017; Pix courtesy http://www.orthodox-christian-comment.co.uk