When I was first ordained a priest, I was assigned to a parish with a large grade school. One day early on in my time there, I was celebrating a funeral Mass when outside on the playground recess began. Peals of laughter suddenly permeated the church as the children began to run around and play games.
The sound of such joy outside seemed to clash with the sadness inside the church. I remember wincing to myself, thinking: “We should have kept the kids indoors. Their laughter is inappropriate for the funeral.”
I looked apologetically over at the family of the deceased and saw not anger but almost a sense of appreciation. Perhaps the sound of children at play in the fields of the Lord was not discordant to them after all.
Our pain and suffering are certainly real, especially when we grieve the death of a loved one. Our faith tells us that when we weep our Lord weeps with us. But our grief, our sadness is never the final word. We know and believe that all that is sad will one day come untrue. Our crosses, large and small, will end in gladness because of Christ’s victory over all sin and death. His dying and rising destroyed death forever and assured for us an eternal lifetime of joy.
And so the laughter of the children on the playground that day, invading a moment of great sadness for a family, may well have been the laughter of angels saying over and over to us inside, “Trust, trust. The one you mourn is not among the dead, but the living—forever.”
Fr. Pete Jarret, C.S.C., is the Superior of Moreau Seminary. Prior to this assignment, he had served four years as the Superior of the Holy Cross community at the University of Notre Dame. Fr. Pete wrote this refletion originally as part of the book The Gift of the Cross published by Ave Maria Press. Today we post it as a part of our series of Holy Week homilies and reflections on the Spes Unica Blog. Read other homilies and reflections by Holy Cross priests and brothers.