In the United States, we have a tradition of visiting our deceased relatives and friends each May 31st, on which we celebrate Memorial Day. As we stand at their graves, there are those we knew well who touched our lives and those we know only by name and family stories. For each of them, we stand and say a prayer of thanksgiving to God and pray that they are joyfully in Heaven.
Today’s first reading from Sirach strikes a chord as we remember our deceased loved ones. Sirach touches on the passage of time and our limitations for remembering. But he reassures us that what we have been given through their efforts, faith, and our heritage continue in us. He ends with this message of hope by saying: “Through God’s covenant with them their family endures … and their glory will never be blotted out.” Given our place in this lineage, the question is: “What does God expect from us?” It’s a good question to ponder as we seek to serve God, our families, and society. In the gospel, we find answers to living a fruitful life. We heard how Jesus enters the temple and sees practices He didn’t like. Upon leaving, He must have been reflective. The next day He returns with a decisive plan. That’s lesson number one—observe, reflect, pray, and act decisively. Then there’s Jesus’ hunger, which leads him to approach the fig tree. Some believe that Jesus expected to see some green figs but instead only saw leaves—all show and no substance. There’s another lesson—it’s fine to have a good presentation, but our lives need to produce what is good. The next lesson has to do with the temple money changers and merchants. They each played a role in helping people offer sacrifices as part of worship, but we’re left to ask ourselves, do I focus too much on work to the detriment of my prayer life and worship of God at Mass? The final lesson may be the hardest; it’s about forgiveness. Jesus tells the disciples that when we pray, “forgive anyone whom you have a grievance …” At times this may seem impossible because the hurts can become ingrained. We can even ask, “Jesus, do you know what they’ve done?” These questions can become part of our prayer too. And, in the silence, we can remember that Jesus has gone before us and asks us to follow Him.
My brothers and sisters, the legacy we leave will depend upon our seeking to follow Jesus--by pondering and praying honestly, listening patiently, and seeking to forgive others as Jesus has forgiven us.
May God bless you and your families this holy day!
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About Father David Marcham
Reverend David S. Marcham is the Vice Postulator for the Cause of Venerable Patrick Peyton, and Director of the Father Peyton Guild, whose members pray for Father Peyton’s beatification and spread his message of the importance of Family Prayer. Prior to becoming a seminarian, Father David was a physical therapist and clinical instructor, serving hospital inpatients and outpatients throughout the greater Boston area for eleven years. In 1998 he heard the call to priesthood and was ordained in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2005. Father David grew up in Quincy, MA, and has fond memories of playing soccer, tennis and running track. You’re never without a friend when Father David is around, as he welcomes everyone into his circle with a smile on his face!