Today’s gospel is one of the passages most selected for funeral liturgies. In it Jesus states that in his Father’s house there are many mansions and that He is going to prepare a place for us and will come back to take us to where He is. Obviously, this promise is of great consolation when we are mourning the loss of someone we love or when we contemplate our own passing from this life. The whole of this Easter season is a promise that Christ, who has defeated our final enemy, death, will share that victory with those who love and follow him. As surely as we face the certainty of dying, just as surely we rejoice in the certainty that the Lord will share His victory over death with us. An inscription found on an 18th century grave marker expresses it well. “Death thou has conquered me; by thine arrows I am slain. But Christ has conquered thee, and I shall rise again!” There is a poem that I often use at funeral liturgies which I think states beautifully the hope that is ours in the victory of the Lord and His promise to share it with us. It goes like this:
Think of stepping on shore and finding it heaven.
Of taking hold of a hand and finding it God’s.
Of breathing a new air and finding it celestial air.
Of feeling invigorated and finding it immortality.
Of passing through stress and storm to perfect calm.
Of waking and finding it home.
Of waking and finding it home in heaven!