What did he say? This weekend being Remembrance Weekend he recalled how some years ago he had had several conversations with an elderly parishioner who as a very young girl saw her older brother leave home to fight in the Second World War. He, like so many, didn’t return. He was killed in action and it was her long held wish to one day see his grave, particularly as no one from the family had ever had the opportunity to make that visit. Well, it finally happened and it was a very emotional experience for everyone involved.
But the significance of their time together wasn’t just limited to the moments in the war cemetery where this young man was laid to rest. The next day they visited S.Peter’s in Rome And a little way into the basilica they saw Michaelangelo’s Pieta, Mary holding the body of her dead son in her arms. She paused, and lingered and then gazed and gazed at Michaelangelo’s masterpiece and found it difficult to tear herself away.
After a while, they continued around St Peter’s and it wasn’t until the following day that she ventured to say what had happened. Taking a deep breath she gently explained that she understood for the first time the pain that her own mother must have felt with the loss of her son so far from home and that unlike Mary, she [her own mother] never got to see or hold her dead son in her arms.
A little later they had an opportunity to talk a bit more deeply about this experience. Together they shared something of the pain and grief of loss that we all experience at some time in our lives but that as Christians we also have the knowledge and hope that comes with resurrection. Mary had also experienced her son as Risen Lord, and was transformed by that experience. An experience we too will fully share when this, our mortal life comes to an end and we know Christ in the fullness of his glory.