In So Many Words
A parishioner, whose husband had died two years before, had now lost her only son. He had died of a heart attack while hiking in the mountains. His car was found in a parking lot at the foot of the trail, but his body not discovered for two days. He was really a caring and loving son. His mother was distraught. Sudden death is always a great shock. His mother told me, “There is an emptiness and dire hunger in my heart.” She used a strong meaning Japanese verb, usually associated with “dying of hunger.”
Like the Gospel scene of Naim, Jesus saw this mother’s tears and gave her His consolation. But as so often happens, the Risen Lord in our world today, works through others. Jesus says to us: “You are my hands and voice.” In this case a fellow parishioner and friend sent the grieving mother an amaryllis bulb in a pre-prepared container. All that was needed was to insert water. It was sent as a consolation gift.
The dead-looking amaryllis bulb with its roots touching water at first showed green leaves, then a bud, and finally bloomed in glory. And just as it bloomed the sad mother read the words of Jesus, “I am resurrection and life. The one who believes in me will never die.” ( John 11:25)
This tearful mother, thanks to the eternal present tense of Jesus’ words in the Gospel, aided by a bulb in bloom, was greatly consoled. She realized that her son’s love was still with her. And I told her that she could still talk to her loving son, as this was one part of what we believe when we use the theological shorthand term “communion of saints.”
So, this plant had a message for the grieving mother. It also has a living message for us today. Consolation of the saddened ones of life is a great act of kindness, and we are acting in the name of Jesus. In the vein of Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 25, the Lord will say to us: “When I was sad, you comforted me. Whenever you did it to one of my people, you did it to me.”
Columban Fr. Barry Cairns lives and works in Japan.