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J.D. Long-GarcíaJune 05, 2023
Black and gray cement tombs

Reflection for the Memorial of St. Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

Find today’s readings here.

“Jesus Christ, you are the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead; you have loved us and freed us from our sins by your Blood.” (Rv 1:5ab)

Years ago, I attended a conference for Catholic cemeteries workers from across the United States. I came away with a profound appreciation of the life-giving ministry cemetery workers can provide to grieving families. The Most Rev. Gerald Kicanas, then the bishop of the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., gave an impassioned address about how Catholic cemeteries are a concrete manifestation of the belief in the resurrection of the dead—something the faithful profess in the Creed every Sunday. These workers inspire hope and testify to our belief in everlasting life.

In today’s first reading, we read about how Tobit took extraordinary measures to bury the dead, a corporal work of mercy. His actions recognize the dignity of the human person, even after death. In a way, our commitment to serving the poor and marginalized does not end with their death. I learned last year that Jesuit Refugee Service exemplifies that. They had been helping a woman with her asylum case, but she died tragically after not receiving the medical care she needed. The lawyer who had been working on her case made sure her body was returned to her home country.

Death does not take away our human dignity. And because of Jesus, we need not fear it.

How we treat the dead reveals what we believe about everlasting life. Death does not take away our human dignity. And because of Jesus, we need not fear it.

Self-preservation is innate to us and, in times of crisis, it can seem like nothing is more important than survival. Yet somehow, a belief in Jesus and everlasting life can enable us to lay down our lives for others.

It gives us courage to work for justice here on earth, no matter the cost. Caring for the dead reminds us of that.

More: Scripture

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