We buried Mary on Friday. She died at the age of 81 years. I had been her priest in two different parishes. She died with the sure and certain hope of the resurrection. An Advent funeral.
The Mary of the Gospels waited with expectation for the birth of her Son - Jesus, Immanuel. In the midst of the Christmas carols we will sing, is a reminder of a second kind of birth, for which we must wait.
mild he lays his glory by
born that man no more may die
born to raise the sons of earth
born to give them second birth
hark the herald angels sing
glory to the newborn king
The Christian waits. Waits for the promises of God. Waits for fullness of life. Waits to be fully and eternally 'born again' into the kingdom of God. Waits to be resurrected at that last day. In the Advent waiting for the birth of the Messiah is also a second waiting. We wait for our own birth.
What is this resurrected life that Jesus promises? It is life as God intended it to be, before sin and the power of death entered the world. It is not the life of ghosts or childish imaginations, of memory, or wishful thinking, or dreams of “what used to be”. It is fullness of life as God intended it to be. All the joys and loves and adventures of this life are, at their best, but pale imitations of the life God intends for us. All that is best and good and worthy in this life is only a small reflection of the life that is yet to come.
We therefore commit her body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in the sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life.
'And I will raise them up on the last day.'