Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Jose Reyes is a fisherman. Let me be clear. Jose is not a pastor who fishes for men from a pulpit he’s a 68 year-old fisherman who lives in Colombia. Two weeks ago, on January 19th, Jose’s day began like any other day. He launched his small canoe into the Pacific Ocean waters off the remote northwestern part of his country.
Jose’s day didn’t stay normal for long. Paddling against rough waves, Jose became confused when fog set in and obscured the shore. Slowly, the ocean current pulled Jose further away from land, his home, and family, drifting alone without food, fresh water, or much hope. Finally, days after becoming swept out to sea, Jose spotted the light of a fishing boat in the distance. Jose paddled toward the light as if his life depended on it, and it did.
On the first night that Jose didn’t return home, his family became afraid for his safety. As the days passed, their fear was replaced with mourning, due to similar losses seen in other fishermen’s families. So, they proceeded to make funeral preparations centered on an empty casket.
Jose returned to his home last Tuesday night and found his loved ones mourning his death. Touched by the poignant scene, Jose began to cry. The family went wild with gladness when confronted by the seeming resurrection of a man whom they thought dead. It was a most blessed and unexpected reunion.
I can understand. During my 28 years as a parish pastor, I have conducted hundreds of funerals. I can truthfully say that none of those funerals were ever interrupted by the unexpected return of the deceased. Indeed, I’m not sure what my reaction would have been if, during the delivery of a funeral homily, I would have looked up and seen the dearly departed silhouetted in the back door of the church.
Because of our loving Savior who says, “Those who mourn will be comforted.” Our gracious God wants the faithful from every generation to know that by the Christ’s resurrection eternal death has been defeated.
The day will come when all of us will either mourn or be mourned, and when that day comes we can join with Paul and say, “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Cor. 15:54) Because of Christ, every Christian casket will be empty, and every mourning heart will be comforted.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, for Your defeat of death, I give thanks. I praise Your Name for the joyous reunion of all who have died in the faith. May mourning hearts be comforted by the sure and certain knowledge of an unending reunion for all who believe. In Your Name. Amen.