Returning to the House of the Father
Fr. Paul P. Pang O.F.M.
In the course of the last few months, our small community has suffered the sad loss of quite a few members, some in our community here and others somewhere else but in some ways belonging to our community. They are Mrs. Yang, Mr. Wong (father of Lily and Lisa), Mrs. Shek (mother of Stephen Shek), Mr. Hsiao (father-in-law of Peter Wu, Mrs. Bernadette Wang (wife of Francis Wang) and baby Francesca Ng. Three of them have had their burial Masses here in Dallas. But for all of them we have had funeral/memorial Masses in our church. Our most profound condolences go to each and all the bereaved families. We all fervently pray that our heavenly Father will console them and grant them peace and serenity.
The goodbyes of the living and the separations from the deceased are certainly the most sorrowful experience for us human beings. They are as inevitable as they are natural. But unfortunately, and in a particular way, for those who do not have faith, such separation is almost unbearable. It seems to be so hopeless that many would despair as though it were an eternal separation, never to see each other again. It is said that often the left behind partner of a long time and lovingly married couple would follow the deceased partner in a very short span of time, a year or even a few months. In such cases the separation has become truly unbearable. It is all because the real purpose of love is union. The genuinely loving couples cannot suffer to be separated for long, but desire to be eternally united as soon as possible.
But for us who have faith the situation is totally different. First of all because our God is the God of union and not of separation. There are many instances in the Bible to prove this point. The ‘last seven words’ spoken by our dying Saviour on the cross had this to say: “Indeed, I promise you, today you will be with me in paradise!” (Lk 23:43) It is God’s nature to be lovingly united with those who love Him and those whom He loves. Just like every loving parent, he or she would not suffer separation from their children. Every time we attend a requiem Mass we hear the Church say: “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended.” So at death our life is not ended, but changed, changed into everlasting life in union with our heavenly Father. What an assurance! What a consolation! Let us remember, the Church prays: “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended”, the fundamental difference between those who hope and those who despair is the word ‘faithful’. The thief on the left despaired because of his disbelief whereas the one on the right repented and loved the One who even while suffering cruciating pain was able to promise the joy of paradise to be united with Him and His Eternal Father. This strong faith will empower us to be eternally united with the Father in His heavenly House. May this be also the final destination for all of us who love and worship the Father in Heaven! Death therefore is nothing else but the happy return to the House of the Father.