Reflections on a sad and untimely death

People die every day and everyone is going to die someday. We all know that. Nevertheless, when those who die have lived in the public eye, a public response follows and the motive force behind that response is, while not unreasonable, certainly beyond reason. So let it be with Peaches Geldof. May she rest in peace.

Her father, a man with a big heart and a very good head for putting things together – and who put both at the service of the starving millions in Ethiopia – said of his second daughter: “Peaches has died. We are beyond pain.

“She was the wildest, funniest, cleverest, wittiest and the most bonkers of all of us.

“Writing ‘was’ destroys me afresh. What a beautiful child.

“How is this possible that we will not see her again? How is that bearable? We loved her and will cherish her forever.”

Bob, you will see her again.

We cannot judge you, we cannot judge your daughter, but we do know, in the light of a knowledge supported by reason and faith, “was” does not really cover the full story. You do not see it this way – but you might.

As of now we do not know the circumstances of your daughter’s leaving this world. And even when we do, what we will be told will not be all that there is to know. Only the God who created her with your help knows the full story and what we know about Him is that he is infinitely wise, all-knowing and all-merciful. That is a truth on which we can rest a great deal of hope. Talk to Him.

Just this morning, coincidentally with this sad event,  I read these words of a wise and good man, words which carry with them the authority of Him under whose inspiration you received your early education in Blackrock College in Dublin:

“Our infinite sadness can only be cured by an infinite love.

“But this conviction has to be sustained by our own constantly renewed experience of savouring Christ’s friendship and his message. It is impossible to persevere in a fervent evangelization unless we are convinced from personal experience that it is not the same thing to have known Jesus as not to have known him, not the same thing to walk with him as to walk blindly, not the same thing to hear his word as not to know it, and not the same thing to contemplate him, to worship him, to find our peace in him, as not to.

“It is not the same thing to try to build the world with his Gospel as to try to do so by our own lights. We know well that with Jesus life becomes richer and that with him it is easier to find meaning in everything. “

These words were given to us just last year by Pope Francis in his letter, The Joy of the Gospel.

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