One Beautiful Life
My friend Cheryl invited me to celebrate the funeral mass of her high school classmate from St. Theresa’s College. It was difficult to refuse a divine function; for to pray for the dead is a spiritual work of mercy. As I was rushing through A.S. Fortuna Street towards Rolling Hills amidst a crazy Saturday afternoon traffic, my mind was also racing through a sermon outline I needed to deliver. The sad thing was, I had no personal knowledge of Farah Noel Tan. She was then a total stranger to me. I was praying to the Holy Spirit for the grace to give me the words of faith and comfort that the grieving family needed in such a circumstance.
I was given scant background information of her death. She actually succumbed to ovarian cancer at a young age of 41 leaving a grieving husband and two kids. But I was not prepared at the end of the Eucharistic Celebration to have the opportunity to know her story and have a glimpse into some of the details of her amazing life. I came to perform a function; I went home enriched after hearing her struggles, her courage and the kindness of her soul. When Marlon, her husband, and other friends started to narrate inspiring moment of her short life, I was given a crash-course of the ups and downs of family life. Each person is really a miracle!
Marlon revealed that his family really prayed for Farah’s healing. It was devastating to see her gone so soon as if God had turned a deaf ear to their plea. But he also saw “the hand of God” in the support, the presence and the love of friends and relatives in their lowest moment. The brother shared a coincidence of taking her picture with a “halo.” It was his way of focusing not so much “the loss” but having gained an “angel in heaven.” Another friend reminisced Farah’s natural capacity to love her friends just as they are. The depth of her love goes beyond her death which her fragile body could not contain. From these insights, it dawned on me how beautiful a death can be marked by a life of intense love and goodness.
Jesus, in this Sunday’s Gospel, compares the kingdom of heaven to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He says to all the invited guests: Come to the feast! I could imagine God preparing a banquet for Farah and inviting her with a big smile: “Share the joy of your Master!”
It is only by faith that allows us to visualize this. Jesus calls this beatitude or real happiness even in the midst of sorrow. It may seem that everything in our society is calculated for the attainment of a good life. We are led to believe that happiness has a price. Yet we know there are many things money cannot buy! Through the beatitudes Jesus teaches us how to ground our life with a strong foundation. The life patterned after the beatitude can only be developed through the instrumentality of the family. In order to promote the good of every individual it takes a family support to nourish and build up every member. A beautiful life can never be had without the family. Indeed it is in the family where prayer is taught and caught; where God is loved and lived.
Showing a deep concern for the care of modern families, Pope Francis called for an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops this week. The global gathering of Church leaders which invited married couples and experts is meant to discuss the “pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.” Through this Synod, the Church renews its commitment to journey with families and married couples because it sees marriage as a place of growth of the human person.
I was not able to join the family and friends of Farah in her interment. But that short experience of a beautiful life was enough to leave a lasting mark in my soul. Requiescat in pace!Disclaimer: This section of the website is a personal creative writing of the author and does not necessarily reflect the official views, opinion, or policies of the Salesians of Don Bosco – Philippines South Province. For concerns on the content, style, and grammar of this piece, please contact us.