November 15, 2015 – Thirty-third Sunday in Ordinary Time

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“Shine Like the Stars”

“But the wise shall shine brightly
like the splendor of the firmament,
and those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever.” -Daniel 12:3

Have you ever lost someone close to you? As Christians, we believe that death isn’t the end of the story. And yet, it’s a part of our life journey that no one can avoid! Our first reading reminds us that those who have gone before us in faith, continue to shine like stars. By following their example, we can find the courage to shine as well.

I remember being 16 years old, sitting in the back of my family’s van, telling my Dad that I wasn’t ready to attend my grandma’s funeral. There was a lump of sadness in my throat from holding back tears. My dad gently said, “Amanda, this isn’t the time to be prideful.” I reluctantly listened, and joined my family in tearfully saying goodbye. Yet somehow, in the midst of my deep sorrow, a true sense of joy wrapped around me. We were celebrating a woman whose life gave testament to her love of God. The wisdom my grandma shared with us in her life was there to comfort us in her death.

Shortly after my grandma’s funeral, I received a phone call from a close friend. She told me that her parents were getting a divorce. I was so shocked, and sad for her. But because I had just experienced the loss of my grandma, I found it easier to comfort my friend. I thought of the joy that comes from trusting God even in sadness, and I was able to tell my friend that I’d keep praying for her.

Recently, I lost one of my very dear friends, Deacon Ken. He was my youth group director in high school, someone I looked to as a mentor. He taught me that God expects great things of young people, and encouraged me to be a leader in our Catholic faith when I was a teenager. Deacon Ken died of ALS at a moment when he would have been healthy, strong, and excited about life. One of the ways that I’ve learned to work through those feelings of grief is by writing. I like to write songs, specifically. Here are some of the lyrics from a song that I’m writing for Deacon Ken:

One minute I’m laughing, the next I think of you
My heart jumps in my chest, I know you’d be laughing too
Suddenly I see, this joke’s on me

Good grief! It’s running down my cheeks
Good grief! It’s pouring out of me
So this is the price for all of our joy, and our memories and such
Good grief! This is what I get for caring so much

Missing Deacon Ken still hurts so much! And yet, thinking of him lifts my spirits. Just like I experienced when I was 15, in the midst of sadness, I find a sense of comfort. As we read in the book of Daniel, “those who lead the many to justice
shall be like the stars forever.” I believe that those who lead me to Christ will live with Him eternally. Remembering their examples, fills me with a joy that’s deeper than sorrow. It’s a joy that’s stronger than death, and plentiful enough to share with those around me.

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