Let the Dead Bury their Dead
"Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God."
June 28, 2019, Words By: Joel Aguilar, Image By: Cementerio La Verbena in Guatemala City, Guatemala
“Let the dead bury their own dead.” Those are hard words!
Before my brother passed, I could not imagine Jesus trying to get us away from our families when sickness and death are imminent. But what if Jesus is actually trying to help us let go when sickness and death strike with the energy of a thousand suns?
True confession, the relationship with my brother was broken. It was a love and hate relationship that hurt both of us deeply. We wounded each other in ways that we may never realize. His sickness and death, however, just brought all of the wounds to the surface. As a result, he decided to spend the last months of his life alone with his new wife, who he was married to for one year.
Life can take the craziest turns at times. In my case, I would have never imagined to be a stranger at the side of my brother’s deathbed.
My brother, Pablo, battled with cancer for over four years. It was a journey that marked all of us who were by his side in ways we are still processing. We experienced beauty and affliction constantly. We spent countless hours in cold hospital rooms, waiting for the worse. We cried with joyful hope at the slightest possibility of healing or improvement to his quality of life. We always knew his cancer was not curable. Alas, Pablo passed away on June 6th.
Let it Go
So, you see, perhaps what we need to bury is not our family relationships, but the structures that sustain codependent and rivalistic relationships. Maybe, that is what Jesus was referring to. Bury your violent origins. Bury your rivalistic expectations. Bury your desires for vengeance. Bury your desire to have fire come from heaven to exterminate those who you do not like. Possibly, there is an invitation in the apparent harshness of Jesus’ words.
A few years ago, my father, my other siblings, and I decided to reveal our rivalries, unrealistic expectations, and violence in order to heal. The process has not been easy. But we were at peace burying Pablo, even though he was not at peace until his last breath.
As I mourn the death of my brother and lament the fact that there is no chance to reconcile and heal together, Jesus invites me to trust that death is no more, and that the exuberance of God’s vivacity is making me free of the violent and rivalistic expectations of my old family system.