Devotional Reading: John 14: 15-31.
Text: I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.
I remember the first time that I told someone that no matter how old we are, it hurts to become an orphan. At first they looked at me queerly, but then a knowing look dawned across their face as a tear welled up in his eye. He was the oldest sibling and I had just performed the funeral service of his last parent. And although the man was in his 60s it dawned on him; for a moment he felt like a child again. I became an orphan at 53 years of age. When a person becomes an orphan they realize that there is a part of their past that is forever gone, the part that was contained only in their parents’ memory.
It has been said that you are never truly an adult until your last parent dies; when you become an orphan. I think that this is true because it is only then that you realize that you are now “on the front lines of life.” You may have been independent for years, even decades, but while your parents are alive there seems to be an imaginary buffer between you and life’s final chapter. Even if they are frail and you are now taking care of them, they are still there…that buffer. With their passing life suddenly takes on a more serious air.
Jesus told His disciples that he would not leave them orphaned. He would not leave them alone. They would not be by themselves, left alone in a world that neither understood the lessons that Jesus taught nor those who followed His teachings. He promised them Another, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Even though He would no longer be with them in the way that He was, He would still be with them. They needed to simply listen to the promptings of the Spirit in the community of faith. He was talking about more than a memory. He was talking about a real Presence, touched and tasted in the sacraments and felt in the blessed community of faith.
My mom and dad have been gathered to their ancestors, in the quaint words of the Old Testament, for several years now. They joined the Cloud of Witnesses of the Letter to the Hebrews, the Church Triumphant. But they are still with me. I catch glimpses of them in the mirror sometimes. I hear their voices in my head; “Slow and steady,” “Don’t worry about sleep, just rest with your eyes closed.”
We have been blessed by those who influenced and guided us. We have been more than blessed by the One who promised not to leave us orphaned.
Lord, I offer prayers of thanksgiving for all of those, known and unknown, remembered and unremembered who have touched my life with love. I offer my greatest prayers of thanksgiving, though, for the One who promised not to leave me orphaned. In His name, Amen.