Reflection for Sunday – April 7, 2024

Readings: Acts 4: 32-35; 1 John 5: 1-6; John 20: 19-31 
Preacher: Meghan Kellogg

On her thirteenth day in the hospital, the medical team removed her breathing devices and artificial nutrition. The rollercoaster of hope and doubt arising from whether she would awaken from the coma came to a halt.  As much as we didn’t want to accept it, God was calling her home.  Ironically, Holy Week was approaching. 

The steady movement of loved ones visiting her in the hospital over these weeks brought much sadness, laughter, attentive care, numerous stories, abiding faith, fear of the unknown, and above all, an entrance into the mystery of death and life. As we kept vigil, the chasm between life and death began to dissolve but our responses to this varied.  And that’s where the gift was found.

Our first reading from Acts describes the gift of community.  The presence of loved ones at my friend’s bedside created a community. Some brought with them fervent faith and the assurance that God was in the midst of the dying process and eternal life was imminent. 

 Others came bearing a mix of love, regret, grief, and pain. Some had faith traditions, others another spiritual path, some didn’t claim any tradition.  What struck me was even though the visitors came from various perspectives and experiences, a profound respect and care for our loved one united us.  As this all unfolded during the most sacred week of the liturgical year, those steeped in the Catholic tradition began sharing the rituals at the foot of her hospital bed.

Somehow knowing that their loved one had participated in those rituals throughout her life, drew her beloved family and friends together.  Not necessarily in a way that boasted uniformity, but instead a spirit of unity because of the love we all shared for our dear friend.  In essence, a community was present that each of us hadn’t fully known before—a community that our dying friend created in her life.  I like to think this was not unlike the community in Acts.  It was a community bonded in the most painfully sacred of times, bearing witness to the power of the Holy Spirit who works in mysterious ways at the cusp of life, death, and new life. The love in that room was a foretaste of the eternal banquet. What a sign.

In today’s Gospel, we encounter the resurrected Jesus who promises us signs.  We want to feel, touch, taste, see, and hear the proof immediately, just like Thomas.  Of course, that’s part of being human and probably why Jesus showed the disciples his hands and his side.  We are reminded that Jesus did “many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written in this book” (Jn 20:30). This is a reminder that the signs continue but they are for the disciples—all of us—to uncover, discern, and share with one another. It’s in our prayer and our conversations within our communities that we discover Christ was making his love known all along in ways we may have missed or not understood at the time. 

Our Lord reminds us in Isaiah that “…my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways…” (Is 55:8).  That verse is something to cling to when we befriend doubt and the embers of faith seem extinguished.  Henri Nouwen, in “The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming,” remarks: “For most of my life I have struggled to find God…all this time God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me…[t]he question is… ‘How am I to let myself be loved by God?’”

This Easter week our friend is still in the hospital awaiting her Homecoming. Someone told me that the final thing she shared in her book group last month was that she would often pray: “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.”  Little did she know that in the weeks that would follow, dozens of those she loves would be present in her hospital room generously gracing her with the same gift of faithfulness she had given to them.

They had all witnessed her continued desire to let herself be loved by God in her life and to be faithful to God and to her relationships, in the midst of challenge, doubt and limitation. Her faithfulness continues to bear fruit in all of whom she holds dear. If that isn’t a sign of the presence of Christ, then I do not know what is.

Meghan Kellog
Latest posts by Meghan Kellog (see all)