Joseph died Sunday morning when he was about to be three. With a rare disease, his heart would not have sustained any significant seizures of the disease. This little Joseph was the son of a couple of the Catholic community I belong to, the Emmanuel community.
The father’s sister called me at 3 AM, when we didn’t know yet if the rescue would be able to revive the child. I couldn’t go to their home – being far from Angers that night. I could only join them on Sunday afternoon to pray with them and, simply, be with them. I had the deep joy of finding out that at four o’clock in the morning, other members of my community had come to their home to support them in this drama. Other fathers and mothers, who had left their comfort and children to surround those whom misfortune had come to strike. From that moment until the burial that took place Tuesday afternoon, this family never stayed alone.
Members of their community have been working with the child’s body to ensure that everything has been taken care of. Others came to cook, take care of their other six children. In this way, more than forty people have passed over the three days to take care of their brother and sister in mourning. In this suffering, the beauty of belonging to a community has become a clear one for me. How many people remain alone at the time of mourning!?
Suffering is scary, and one of the first reactions to people who suffer is to keep away. Nothing like this. We cried with this family, we prayed, we shared their meals. At a time when virtual communities abound, the death of little Joseph has allowed me to touch the grace of being able to belong to a community where charity is not a vain word and is embodied in concrete attention to the suffering brother. Tonight I give thanks to God for belonging to this community.
Fr. Jean-Baptiste Edart (Angers, FR)