Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent

A friend’s father died this week.  A member of our parish is near death.  A friend of a friend has passed away.  My wife and I were discussing yesterday why it seems that so many people pass from this world around the holidays.  We each had some ideas.  It’s cold and flu season.  Holiday parties mean more people are drinking and driving.  Clumsy Americans (like your favorite blogger) fall off ladders attempting to hang Christmas lights.  Shorter hours of daylight contribute to depression and increased drug use which can hasten death.

Just to be sure, I looked up some statistics.  The most recent I could find were through 2002, not exactly current, but close enough for our discussion.  December ranks as the third most likely month to pass into eternal life, following January and February.  So, our feeling that more people die around the Christmas season seems to be correct.

But statistics aside, why do so many people pass away in what’s supposed to be a joyous season.  Why does God let this happen?  I think we have to set aside our own mourning and consider the person who’s passed away.  What could be better than arriving in heaven just before Jesus’ birthday?  If you think we celebrate Christmas, think about the celebration in heaven! It must be amazing!  Let’s give thanks for our loved ones who are about to celebrate their first Christmas in heaven.

But you and I still have to deal with a terrible loss in an otherwise wonderful season.  We still miss them.  Our lives have changed forever.  What about us?

You and I aren’t nearly smart enough to understand God’s plan.  Everything happens for a reason.  Instead of looking at a Christmas death as a bad thing, let’s look at the good side.  When we lose a loved one life may change, but it has to go on.  At this time of year we’re surrounded by happiness.  Christmas music is everywhere.  We’re about to celebrate the birth of the One who died for our sins.  It’s harder for us to retreat into ourselves when we’re immersed in the “most wonderful time of the year”.

As we mourn the loss of our loved one, we must also rejoice in their eternal happiness.  They’ve run the race.  Their work is done.  This will be their best Christmas ever!  Death would be nearly impossible to bear if we didn’t know that it’s not an end.  It’s a beginning.  Eternal life is something to be celebrated, even in our mourning  If you’ve lost a loved one around Christmas, give thanks to God that He took them at a time when it’s so easy for us to set aside our grief and celebrate life!

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