HOMILY THEME: “They crucified Jesus and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take.” (Mark 15:24)

BY: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC



Mark 14:1 – 15:47

In “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom,” author John O’Donohue wrote:

“I was once present at the deathbed of a friend. She was a lovely young woman, a mother of two children. The priest who helped her to die was also a friend. He knew her soul and spirit. As it became apparent that she would die that night, she became frightened. He took her hand and prayed hard into his own heart, asking to receive the words to make a little bridge for her journey. He knew her life very deeply, so he began to unfold her memories. He told her of her goodness, beauty, and kindness. He told her she was going home, and there would be a welcome for her there. God, who had sent her here, would welcome her and embrace her. Of this, she could be completely assured.

“Gradually, an incredible serenity and calmness came over her. All her panic was transfigured into a serenity that I have rarely met in this world. All her anxiousness, worry, and fear had completely vanished. He then told her that she had to do the most difficult thing in her life. She had to say farewell to each member of her family.

“He went out and gathered her family. He told them that each of them could go in for five or ten minutes. They were to tell her how much they loved her and tell her what she meant to them. They were not to cry or burden her. They could cry afterward, but now they were to concentrate completely on making her journey easy. Each one of them went in and talked to her, consoled her, and blessed her. Each of them came out shattered, but they had brought her the gifts of acknowledgement, recognition, and love, beautiful gifts to help her on her journey. Then he anointed her with the holy oil, and we all said the prayers together. Smiling and serene, she went absolutely happily and beautifully on the journey that she had to make alone.

“It was a great privilege for me to be there. For the first time my own fear of death was transfigured. It showed me that if you live in this world with kindness, if you do not add to other people’s burdens, but if you try to serve love, when the time comes for you to make the journey, you will receive a serenity, peace, and a welcoming freedom that will enable you to go to the other world with great elegance, grace, and acceptance.

“It is an incredible privilege to be with someone who is making this journey into the eternal world. When you are present at the sacrament of someone’s death, you should be very mindful of their situation. In other words, you should not concentrate so much on your own grief. You should rather strive to be fully present to, with, and for the person who is going on the journey.” In today’s Gospel account of betrayal, suffering and death, we hear that, “They crucified Jesus and divided his garments by casting lots for them to see what each should take. (Mark 15:24) The garments that clothed Jesus during the course of his ministry, during the moments of his betrayal and during the course of his cruel torture have been, at the moment of his death, given to us. We are heirs of the strength that sustained him, the hope that lifted him up, the peace that enveloped him. And so we take to ourselves these garments of his—strength, hope and peace—that they might sustain us to the threshold of heaven’s door.

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