Mourning the Departed

Image result for wisdom of sirachMy son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial.

Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of: and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness.

For of heaviness cometh death, and the heaviness of the heart breaketh strength. In affliction also sorrow remaineth: and the life of the poor is the curse of the heart.

Take no heaviness to heart: drive it away, and member the last end. Forget it not, for there is no turning again: thou shalt not do him good, but hurt thyself. Remember my judgment: for thine also shall be so; yesterday for me, and to day for thee. When the dead is at rest, let his remembrance rest; and be comforted for him, when his Spirit is departed from him.” Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Sirach) Chapter 38.16-23 Authorized King James Version

From The Orthodox Study Bible, “Proper mourning for the dead is essential to the healing of our grief. An honorable burial for the departed was considered a great work of mercy in the ancient Church. Each parish had its volunteers who washed and dressed the body, making preparation for burial. We are warned not to allow our hearts to be grief-stricken (v.18) so grief overpowers us, for some have even died from grief. Thus, St. Paul says we grieve, but not as those “who have no hope” (1 Th. 4:13) (END QUOTE)

John Gill on 1 Th. 4.13, “the apostle’s view is not to encourage and establish a stoical apathy, a stupid indolence, and a brutal insensibility, which are contrary to the make of human nature, to the practice of the saints, and even of Christ and his apostles, and our apostle himself; but to forbid excessive and immoderate sorrow, and all the extravagant forms of it the Gentiles ran into; who having no notion of the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, had no hope of ever seeing their friends more,

but looked upon them as entirely lost,

as no longer in being,

and never more to be met with, seen, and enjoyed;

this drove them to extravagant actions, furious transports, and downright madness; as to throw off their clothes, pluck off their hair, tear their flesh, cut themselves, and make baldness between their eyes for the dead; see Deuteronomy 14:1 practices forbidden the Jews, and which very ill become Christians, that believe the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead:

the words are to be understood not of other Christians, who have no hope of the eternal welfare of their deceased friends; not but that the sorrow of those who have a good hope of the future Well being of their dear relatives, must and ought to be greatly different from that of others, who have no hope at all: it is observed by the Jews on those words in Genesis 23:2 and “Abraham came to mourn for Sarah”

“it is not said to weep for Sarah, but to mourn for her; “for such a woman as this, it is not fit to weep”, after her soul is joined in the bundle of life, but to mourn for her, and do her great honour at her funeral; though because it is not possible that a man should not weep for his dead, it is said at the end, “and to weep for her”:’

but here the words are to be understood of the other Gentiles that were in a state of nature and unregeneracy, who had no knowledge of the resurrection of the dead, or and hope of a future state, and of enjoying their friends in it: they are called οι λοιποι, “the rest”; and the Syriac version renders it, “other men”. (END QUOTE)

Grieve passionately for a time but keep in mind the hope we have in Christ.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

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