The following is a reflection given by Sister Jean Anne Zappa, OSU, at the Mass on June 10, 2021 in the Motherhouse chapel to celebrate the lives of Sisters Lorraine Maginot, Isabel Lehmenkuler, Jane Stuckenborg, Bernadine Nash and Jamesetta Defelice, who all passed away during May and June, 2020.
My great nephew Zachary was born in February during Covid and a snowstorm. Life broke through. When he came home to meet his brother and sister, he was crying, as all newborns do. His 4-year-old sister, Claire knelt down and said to him, “Don’t worry Zachery, it is going to be okay. You are home now with your mommy and daddy and big brother and big sister.”
As I reflected on today’s readings and this Memorial Mass for Sisters Lorraine, Isabel, Jane Bernadine and Jamesetta, Claire’s comforting words to her little brother came back to me.
We know the storms that Job had to endure as he struggled to try to understand his relationship with God during his trials. How does one come to know God when there is silence? In Job’s journey, he comes to terms with the awesome mystery of God and proclaims, “I know that my redeemer lives.” An act of hope; life breaks through. He hears God say, I am with you, it is ok.
In Romans, Paul wrote this letter as a basis for Christian hope, a recognition of the love of God made manifest in Christ Jesus. God is on your side; no trouble of life could make the Christian forget the love of Christ. The question is always, “Where is God? The conclusion is always the same. God’s plan is clear. God is always faithful, on our side.
Nothing can separate us from the love of God—nothing, not Covid, shutdown, isolation, distancing or masks or the fact that five of our sisters died and, we could not be with them in their burial. We know they did not die alone; we know and believe our faithful God was right there with each one of them. Life broke through.
In our loss, we were united, struggling to find meaning and yet strong in our faith for nothing ever will separate us from the love of God. We have the assurance that God welcomed Lorraine, Isabel Jane, Bernadine and Jamesetta. God welcomed them and said, “It is going to be ok—you are home, right here with your loving God.”
In the gospel, Jesus invites and welcomes, “Do not let your hearts be troubled, for in God’s house are many dwellings,” and we know we are all welcomed. John’s gospel was written to maintain belief during troubled times, reminding us of wherever we are, God is with us. We are always in God’s home now or when our earthly life has changed.
“I am the way, truth and life.” The “I am” statement connects with the Old Testament proclamation of “I am who am,” translated as “I am for you.” Jesus reminds us, “I am for you,” reaching out to us individually and communally in an intimate way. We are in the company of our God right here, right now. And even though we could not be with or celebrate the lives of our Sisters when they died last year, we are assured they were and are in the company of our God and the love of Christ.
From “Life’s Lessons Learned” I read, “When we lose someone we love, we must learn not to live without them, but we must live with the love they left behind.” And we are assured that Lorraine, Isabel, Jane, Bernadine and Jamesetta left love behind because they were faithful to their Ursuline life and faithful to their loving God. And God says, “It’s ok, you are home now with me, for nothing can separate you from me.” Life breaks through.