Father Jim Schwartz’s homily on the raising of Lazarus this past weekend at St. Joseph’s caused me to reflect as he did on illness in my family. He pondered why he is blessed with good health when his older brother Bill suffered complications of lupus that took his life, and his sister Sue has struggled with M.S. for the past 45 years.
In my family, we have puzzled over the extraordinary good health that most of us enjoy. You might say we come from “good stock.” My mom lived a very full 90 years; my dad was the picture of health until lung cancer in his late 70s. Of my siblings and cousins, we seem to go through life unscathed – that is until the past year or so.
Last year we lost my cousin Chip, very quickly and much too soon, following a cancer diagnosis. My niece Christine’s husband Mike was diagnosed with brain cancer in the past year, and has endured several surgeries. My oldest niece Debra was diagnosed with breast cancer at Christmas time, has had two surgeries, and is now at the beginning of a significant treatment protocol. Like so many families, we are learning how to cope with serious illness and now puzzle over why these wonderful, good young people, their spouses and children, must endure such pain and difficulty.
Here in Rochester, my mother-in-law Rosemary is dealing with significant lymphedema and complications of a variety of medical issues.
It is “at these times that we realize all depends on God,” Fr. Jim preached. At times when “the one we love” struggles with illness or loss, we become very aware of both our need for God, and our need to embrace each other.
Whether in family, and/or the community we find when we come together to worship God in faith, indeed it is times like these when we find opportunities to grow in trust in our loving God, and in closeness and love with one another.
May we always pray for each other’s family members—those suffering illness and those blessed with the good health to care for the ones who are ill. God gives each of us what we need to get through it all together.