In those days, like a fire there appeared the prophet Elijah whose words were as a flaming furnace. Their staff of bread he shattered, in his zeal he reduced them to straits; By the Lord’s word he shut up the heavens and three times brought down fire. How awesome are you, Elijah, in your wondrous deeds! Whose glory is equal to yours? You were taken aloft in a whirlwind of fire, in a chariot with fiery horses. You were destined, it is written, in time to come to put an end to wrath before the day of the LORD. To turn back the hearts of fathers toward their sons, and to re-establish the tribes of Jacob. Blessed is he who shall have seen you and who falls asleep in your friendship.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
Ethan. Sonia. Danny. Jim. The older I get the longer the list becomes of loved ones who have returned home to our Lord with the passing of another year.
Carlton. Connie. Martha. Steve. As 2016 draws to a close, I find—like the author of Sirach recalling the great exploits of Elijah—that there can be consolation in naming aloud those who have gone before me. While they may not have ended long droughts, called a child back from the dead, or brought down a king the way Elijah did Ahab, there are graces to be enjoyed when we take time to remember the lives of our dearly departed.
The Messiah’s coming promises reconciliation and peace. Can I look for hints of these promises in the memories of those who fell asleep in the friendship of God this year? What a gratifying fire to build up and warm our hands around this Advent season!
—Joe Kraemer, S.J., a Jesuit scholastic of the California province, is studying philosophy at Fordham University.
Love stirs itself from sorrow;
and love itself is in equal measure
lanced with sorrow.
Out of great love
great sorrow is extorted.
Who loves greatly,
sorrows greatly when
what was loved
is taken away.
— St. Lawrence of Brindisi