15 years ago today, I received a phone call that I wish I had never gotten. Dave Connors one of my college roommates had died after a long illness at the much too young age of 25.

I was angry that day and really felt horrible for his parents. He was their only child and had been sick most of his life. Dave and Lorraine gave their very lives for their child. They dropped all of their own hopes and dreams to tend to his needs. They tried to let him go off to college, but they clung tightly to him at the same time, visiting us constantly at Fordham in the Bronx from their Long Island home. We’d get a phone call in our room daily and we even started a drinking game based on how often Dave would say “Hi Ma!” Their world was turned upside down by the fact that they knew that their time with their son was indeed limited.

I think that’s a lot like Mary. Mary drops everything to be the Mother of God. Imagine how confused she must have been when she got that message from the Angel Gabriel. Imagine the great joy at his birth and like the disciples, I wonder how she felt as her son, went through all of the embarrassment, agony and death that went along with the cross?

“Was it all for nothing? Was it all given to me just to watch him die?” Those were the words of Dave’s mother to me when we talked. I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to lose a child. But I do know what it’s like to lose a close friend. It tested my faith and the faith of our friends. We didn’t always believe that could make all of Dave’s suffering go away and could heal the suffering of our community after Dave’s death.

How can we conceive of a God that allows such horrible things to happen to a someone like my friend and his family? It is to Mary that we can bring our suffering experiences to and know that her suffering is much like our own. Imagine her great joy at the resurrection! Her son, resurrected from the dead, stronger and more vibrant than ever before. God has defeated death for all of us, so that we might see beyond the shadow of death into a new way of living. A life that God has waiting for us that is free of pain and suffering.

I often wonder why the Gospel writers don’t have a scene of Mary running to meet the resurrected Jesus. Wouldn’t this mother be so overjoyed by the fact that her son is once again alive? Perhaps, it is Mary who believed without seeing. Perhaps, Mary trusted that God can always make a way out of no way. This God who turned her life upside down to become the Mother of a son who would not only die too young and too publicly, but who would also have the trust that her son would rise again. God has the power to even defeat death and Mary’s own suffering.

That’s the faith of the one who was Immaculate. Like us, she suffered. Like my friend’s mother, she suffered horribly over the death of her only son. But like her, we too need the eyes of faith. Can we be like Mary, who constantly has faith even when God keeps pulling the rug out from under her feet?

That indeed is a tough kind of faith for us to conceive. We may think that we never could even approach it. But looking at Mary may indeed help us understand that God has already redeemed us and so, Gabriel’s words to Mary are also the words that we need to take into our lives.

“Do not be afraid. For nothing is impossible with God.”

Pray for us, Mary and St. David of Long Island.
And please today keep the Connors family in your prayers.

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