Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ dear brothers and sisters.
It is a terrible thing what has happened to Mary this week. As we mourn her absence we are also reminded that life indeed is frail and there is nothing we can do to control how long will it last.
But why this terrible situation had to happen? Where was God when Mary was dying? Was it really God’s will for Mary to leave us? Why her and not us? These and many other questions are surely triggering in our minds right now.
Though I cannot bring Mary back and I know that no sermon today can ease the pain that her family and the church are feeling, I would like to attempt to answer some of those questions.
Why did God make this situation happen?
My answer is very straightforward, this is not something that God made happen. In fact God did not want Mary to die. The Bible tells us that God knows the plans he has for us, and those are plans for good, not for disaster (Jer. 29:11). I can assure you by the testimony of the Holy Spirit and by the doctrine of the Bible, that God does not make evil to us. Then who? The answer to this is somewhat more complex. Sometimes indeed it is the devil who wants to hurt us, some other times things are the result of sad random conditions; nevertheless, ultimately it is us, human beings, who have brought pain into the world.
If we think of the case of Mary, maybe we could blame it on the driver who did not observe the car coming from the corner, or we could also blame it on that other driver who thought he could still make it in spite of the change of light. We could go farther and say that it is the fault of the mechanic who did not check the breaks in a correct way, or the factory who produced such flimsy automobile… but where will this quest for guilt take us? Sooner or later we will arrive to the realization that evil is in the world, that people suffer and that this suffering is only boosted by the selfishness and sins of humankind.
God did not want Mary to die on that accident, but in the same way we can affirm with all trust that he did not plan for humankind to experience pain and death. And this leads us to a second question.
Where was God when Mary was dying?
The Bible in Psalms 139:16 says that from the very moment we were being formed in our mother’s womb, God was already there. This is also true for Mary. From the moment she was conceived until the tragic day in which she left us, God was there. God did not forsake Mary, nor has he forsaken us. I even dare to say that as Mary left this world she was welcomed in the arms of love of her heavenly Father. He calmed her pain, he invited her to eternity. He led her by the hand…
Why she and not us?
This is a question that we all have the right to ask. Why such a precious innocent girl as Mary had to leave so soon when some of us have already experienced what life has to offer. We have loved, we have traveled, we have learned, taught and even raised children of our own. Why she then? As your pastor and friend, and even if I may expose myself to your dislike, I must remind you that we humans have a tendency to live on the assumption that we will be here forever. How sad this is… Mary being four years old was not yet attached to the things of this world as we are. For she this world was still a place to explore and understand, but precisely because of that she has been able to enter in our Father’s realm without looking behind. In her innocence and perfect devotion of love she went with the Father and soon we will join her. When? It may be a matter of a few days, months or years, but we will get there. 200 years from now none of us will be on this earth, and none of us will be wondering why this terrible event happened.
Today, in the middle of our suffering, we are having a glimpse of our true nature. My dear brothers and sisters, we are pilgrims and our human life is our pilgrimage. We are citizens of heaven (Ph. 3:20) and it is there where we belong. Mary has arrived there earlier than expected, but second by second we are walking in her same direction. Today is one of our last days. Let us then take advantage of this day without being attached by it. Let us give ourselves, instead of taking from others; let us live a good life and be ready to die a good death, a death that will testify of our love for God and for our neighbors, for in all honesty this is as far as our choices go.
- Brother Ánderson Godoy S.
DISCLAIMER: This was written as an assignment for my ministry class. Though I have preached sermons on occasion of someone’s death, Mary is a fictional character.