by Ken Rolheiser
Humboldt Broncos and a higher calling

I had a dream recently wherein I was selected to enter a banquet hall and a great celebration. My Dad was sitting beside me and he was also called, along with a cousin who has been seriously ill this past year.

I pondered the meaning of my dream. My father was called to eternal life some forty years ago. My cousin has regained his physical health, and I am still running the race. I concluded that we are all called by God at a time of his choosing.

The sad events of the Humboldt Broncos bus collision of April 6, 2018, gave us an unprecedented challenge. The best among us groped for words. Rev. Sean Brandow, the Humboldt Broncos team chaplain said, “I’m a pastor. I’m supposed to have something…but I needed to hear from God.”

And God spoke through scripture. Bishop Bryan Bayda of the Ukrainian Catholic Eparchy of Saskatoon proclaimed Psalm 23:

The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me;
Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Rev. Matteo Carboni of Humboldt said, “We remember the words of Jesus, who told us: ‘You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy’. We need each other to make this promise a reality.”

Saskatoon Bishop Mark Hagemoen offered a final blessing, “Lord God, you are the light that illumines the darkness,” he prayed. “Continue to lead us into your light.”

Surely the Lord spoke through his ministers to take us out of the darkness and into the sunny green pasture of Psalm 23. The valley of death is an overwhelming reality at a time like this. But the Jesus who rose from the dead proclaims victory over death. Christ is the light of the world.

In a poem Sister Melanie Svoboda talks about pain and sorrow as the time “when smiles leave, songs are silenced and dance becomes impossible.” She explains that Jesus came to share our suffering and pain. The fact that Jesus wept should console us.

The world of pain and suffering is our lot and we will need to face it. We can cling to each other, Melanie said. Our social community is important. The Eucharist gives us bread for the journey, and daily prayer keeps us on intimate terms with Jesus.

The real consolation is in that hope for a better world. In “Life and Resurrection”, Father Brendan McGuire assures us of this reality. “From my many experiences… there is one thing that I am absolutely sure about…and that is I have no doubt in eternal life,” McGuire says.

“I have watched so many people pass from this world into the next, and I have been with them on that journey.  I know it is for real because they testify by their actions and by their words of belief in God and being welcomed in that last section of the journey home.

“It is absolute truth for me to believe in the resurrection and in Jesus Christ who claimed to be the resurrection,” McGuire concludes.

Jesus says, "I am the resurrection and I am the life.  All who believe in me will not die." When smiles leave, songs are silenced and dance becomes impossible, Easter is the assurance of and hope in a better world to come.

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