Gospel & Reflection for Cemetery Mass

Gospel & Reflection for the Cemetery Mass

‘There are many rooms in my Father’s house’.
As we celebrate our annual cemetery Masses, we reflect together on our experience of loss, grief, and faith. We miss our loved ones continually, but we are thankful for their presence and love in life and their guiding spirit from Heaven. May they rest gently in peace.


Friends, C.S. Lewis is not only one of the world’s most celebrated writers, but he was also an Anglican theologian. He wrote beautifully about his love of God and God’s love for all people, and even his most famous book, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ is heavy with the Christian themes of death and Resurrection, hidden within its childhood adventure.
In the 1940’s, Lewis authored a book called ‘The Problem of Pain’ – it was a reflection on suffering, but from a purely theoretical point of view. He wrote about pain and grief, the experience of it, and where God could be found within it. However, he wrote that book as, what he later described ‘a detached spectator.’ Some twenty years later though, he drafted another book titled ‘A Grief Observed.’ This book was written after his beloved wife, Joy Davidman, had died from cancer in the third year of their short-lived marriage.
In this book, C.S. Lewis is no longer a detached spectator; now he is an actor intimately involved in the drama of human suffering. He no longer speaking academically; he pours out the suffering of his heart and soul on every page. His grief, pain, and doubts are all laid bear and the turmoil of his life and spirit easily seen. Where once he never questioned or doubted God’s love and presence, he now observes: ‘Where is God? When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing Him, you turn to Him and are welcomed with open arms. But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face…after that silence.’ His pain is obvious.
Eventually though, he begins to see and say that ‘sorrow, turns out to be not a state but a process.’ He rediscovers the reassurance of his faith and feels the comforting presence of God in his life. He wrote beautifully ‘Not that I am in danger of ceasing to believe in Him. I need God, but not something that resembles Him.’ His faith had matured through his pain. No longer was it made up of platitudes, that he himself shared often and by admission, too easily with others. Lewis realised that there is no suffering or pain unfamiliar to God, no loss that is unknown or unfelt by Him. God might be hard to see because of our tears, but in the storms of our lives, He is always in our midst.
Friends, it is this reassurance and hope that we take comfort in as we celebrate our cemetery Masses.
Together, we have suffered loss and know too well the pain of grief. Such pain can make us question the existence and presence of God, but we are never left in that state. In our gathering in His presence at Church and by gravesides, we are witnessing to what we honestly believe about God – we are a testament to a faith tested but still held on to. We hold on to Jesus’ promise of a place, a room in eternal life and we hold firm to His love in our lives, which is greater than anything else that might try to make us doubt it.
We entrust our departed loved ones to their place in Heaven and there may they have rest and peace; and as we continue the journey onward to them, let us be always reassured that the Lord in our midst – comforting, consoling, and strengthening us always.
May the Lord bless them and keep them.
May the Lord make His face to shine upon them and be gracious to them.
May the Lord lift up His countenance upon them and grant them His peace. Amen.
Fr. Richard