Some years ago in a previous parish assignment, St. Thomas More, in Washington DC, I was accustomed to take a Friday afternoon walk to focus on my homily for Sunday. At the beginning of the walk I’d often stop by the nearby house of an elderly parishioner, Ms. Lillian, and give her communion. She was quite elderly, her mind was beginning to fail and for these reasons it was difficult for her to get to Church.
In mild weather she often be in her wheel chair on the front porch and, as I’d walk up she’d say, “Oh Father! It must be Sunday!” “No, Lillian,” I’d usually say, “It’s actually Friday.” And she’d usually say, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”
I was thinking of the calendar most times I answered her, but she she was long past worrying what day the world said it was. And so, Friday after Friday, as I’d stop by she kept asking if it was Sunday. Friday it was, but she kept looking for Sunday. “Is it Sunday, Father?”…. “No Ms. Lillian, today is Friday.”
The world has a saying: “Thank God, it’s Friday.” But in the Church, especially among African Americans whom I serve, there is an older expression: “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” It is a thoroughly Biblical reflection wherein Friday represents our sufferings, our own “Good Fridays,” and Sunday represents our rising from the dead, our joy and the fulfillment of our hopes.
When Ms. Lillian saw her priest, she thought of Sunday, she thought of Jesus and Holy Communion. So, in a way for her it was Sunday, for a moment. But, to be sure, Lillian was in the Friday of her life. She had all the crippling effects of old age: dementia, arthritis, weakness, hearing and eyesight problems, sugar, and you name it. “I’s gotten ooooold, Father.” Yes, Friday had surely come for Lillian.
At her funeral I could think of no other way to begin the homily than to say, “It’s Sunday Ms. Lillian…It’s Sunday.” And the congregation nodded, some just hummed, others said, “Thank you Jesus.” Lillian had gone to Jesus and Sunday had come. Surely she, like all of us, needed some of the cleansing purgation wherein the Lord wipes away the tears of all who have died (cf Rev 21:4), and lifts the burdens of our sorrows, regrets and sins for the last time. For those who die in the Lord, die in the care of the Lord. The souls of the just are in the hand of God (Wis 3:1).
Yes, Sunday, glorious Sunday, for all those who trust in the Lord. The Fridays of life will come but if we trust, Sunday will surely follow.
“Oh, Father! It must be Sunday!” ….”Yes, Ms. Lillian, it is surely Sunday.”
I thought of Ms. Lillian when I saw this video. I hope you will enjoy a little wisdom from the “Black Church.” Good preaching, good reminders, powerful video.