Some years ago in a previous parish assignment (St. Thomas More, in Washington D.C.) I was accustomed to taking a Friday afternoon walk in order to focus on my Sunday homily. At the beginning of the walk I’d often stop by the house of an elderly parishioner, Ms. Lillian, and give her Communion. Her mind was beginning to fail and it was difficult for her to get to Church.
In mild weather she would often be out on the front porch in her wheelchair. As approached she’d say, “Oh Father, it must be Sunday!” “No, Lillian,” I’d usually reply, “It’s actually Friday.” And then she’d usually respond, “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”
When I answered her I was thinking of the calendar, but she was long past worrying about what day the world said it was. And so, Friday after Friday, she’d keep asking me if it was Sunday. It was Friday, but she kept looking for Sunday. “Is it Sunday, Father?” “No, Ms. Lillian, today is Friday.”
The world has a popular saying, “Thank God, it’s Friday.” But in the Church, especially among the African-Americans whom I serve, there is an older expression: “It may be Friday, but Sunday’s coming.” It is a thoroughly biblical context in which Friday represents our sufferings, our personal “Good Fridays,” while 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, if only for a moment. To be sure, Lillian was in the “Friday” of her life. She suffered from many of the crippling effects of old age: dementia, arthritis, weakness, poor hearing, and eyesight problems. “I’s gotten so ooooold, Father,” she’d say. Yes, Friday had surely come for Lillian.
At her funeral I could think of no better way to begin the Homily than by saying, “It’s Sunday Ms. Lillian; it’s Sunday.” And the congregation nodded. Some just hummed, while 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 through which 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, it’s Sunday, glorious Sunday, for all those who trust in the Lord. The Fridays of life will come, but if we trust in Him, Sunday will surely follow.
“Oh, Father! It must be Sunday!” ”Yes, Ms. Lillian, it is surely Sunday.”
I thought of Ms. Lillian when I watched this video. I hope you’ll enjoy a little wisdom from the “Black Church.” Good preaching, good reminders, powerful video.