The ashes had not yet faded from my forehead as I checked myself in my rear-view mirror. My sister had messaged me to come to the hospital where my dad had been for the previous two weeks, because the doctors and social worker wanted to speak with the family. Ash Wednesday had just gotten a little more miserable.
When I arrived at the ICU waiting area, we knew that the doctors were preparing to meet with us – a room just had to be made available. Mom and I went into dad’s room, sat at his bedside, and began praying the Rosary. As we did, dad seemed uncomfortable or agitated – as if he wanted to join us but couldn’t. When we finished, a doctor came to tell us they were ready for us.
We were escorted into a smaller waiting room with little boxes of tissue on every other seat. This was clearly not a room where much good news was shared. My mom, sister, brothers, and uncle listened as the team of doctors told us how bad off dad was, and how everything they were doing was simply leading to more problems. They were keeping him regulated and alive artificially.
We knew what dad wanted; we knew what should be done. Dad had even talked to mom about this very thing. He had said that he was ready to go, and that we should be too. Through our tears, we looked at each other and assented to the hardest decision a family has to make: to let go of our dad and give him to God.
Dad died at 10:20 that next morning, with all of us praying around him. Like Jesus, he bowed his head and breathed his last.
And yet, even in that most painful moment of my life so far, I suddenly felt a sense of peace – and even joy. Dad was free of pain, yes; but even more, he was united totally with the Lord, who also suffered and died. I knew then that he was being presented to Jesus by Mary (with whom we had prayed many times at his bedside). I knew that there was hope and resurrection.
Dad had taught us that.
This is my story. Yes, it is deeply personal and real for me. But we all have this story – not because we have lost loved ones, but because we have listened to and followed Jesus. His path leads us through suffering and death to the glory of this very day: Easter. He is risen!
Brothers and sisters, this is our faith. It is what we believe and profess. For the Christian, our affirmation of what we believe is more than mere words. It is our gift to Christ because of His gift to us. But you cannot give Jesus your “I do” unless that “I do” actually belongs to you. We cannot affirm someone else’s faith for ourselves. We must give Jesus our YES. Then, and only then, does it become His YES.
And Easter is all about His YES. With the day that sees Him rise, God says YES to us; YES to life; YES to the glory that He intended for us from the beginning of time.
Easter is the heart of our faith. We have to get this right! Only through uniting our personal stories with that of Jesus do we enter the mystery of His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. And when we do, that mystery – the Paschal Mystery – becomes the source of our strength, life, and salvation.
Sometimes, we live Lent all in one day. Sometimes, it takes a lifetime. However, if we truly do live it, then we also know that we are living the reality of Easter – which is an eternal reality. Jesus Christ is risen today! And through our sharing in the mystery of His life, so are we!
I will always miss my dad – that’s the reality of our humanity and of love. However, I know that he actually believed what he professed. And I do too. Do you?
That YES is what you must now give to Jesus. And His YES will completely change your life!