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Alessandra RoseFebruary 27, 2024
Photo from Unsplash.

A Reflection for Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Amen, amen, I say to you
Whoever keeps my word will never see death. (John 8:51-59)

Historical tradition and now modern social conventions dictate that we wear black to funerals. It is meant to symbolize the somberness of the occasion, signal the respect we have for the grieving and show others that we are in mourning. When Prince Albert died, his heartbroken widow, Queen Victoria, wore black every day right up until the day that she, herself, died. That is quite a statement.

I have had some very major losses in my life, so I think I can relate, at least a bit, to the heartbreak that Queen Victoria wanted to project by wearing black. I have lived (and still do) with extraordinary grief and deep heartache because several of the people that I love most in the entire world are no longer with me in a physical way. I understand a pain that makes everything seem so dark that it feels almost like a betrayal of those who have died to wear anything but the very blackest clothes.

I wonder, though, why we Catholics perpetuate that practice.

In John’s Gospel today, Jesus tells us, quite explicitly, that as believers, we never really die. This pledge has been sustaining for me. (Indeed, I wonder how you survive big loss without faith.) I consider the certainty that we will all be gloriously reunited in the fullness of God’s love to be among the most precious graces of our faith. Our own personal Easter, if you will.

I have told my family and friends that when I die, they should wear red, pink, orange, green, purple, yellow and blue to my funeral. (Please remind them if you know them when the time comes.) Not just because I love bright colors, but because I fully trust in Jesus’s promise of what awaits all of us who believe—that belief is most worthy of a bright, joyful, colorful celebration.

More: Scripture

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