Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst. But I told you that although you have seen [me], you do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me. And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it [on] the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him [on] the last day.”
(Yes, if you have been following my writing for some time now you will have read this last year for All Souls Day, and it exists here as it does in my new book, Everyday Stewardship: Reflections for the Journey, with an idea for response and reflection question. But on this day, I still miss my father, and I have been dreaming about him a lot lately. So indulge me once again, for this piece honors my father in one of the best ways I know how to do so. And to all those who have lost someone in the year since last All Souls Day, may you find solace in a God who not only cares, but One that calls us His own. God Bless.)
My mother died when I was thirty-one years old. My parents had been married for fifty-five years, and now my father had not only lost his wife, he had lost his identity. He had grown up with three siblings, but they were all deceased. He had been on disability for many years so he had no real job connections left. Yet the biggest part of this identity crisis was he had spent his life as an unbaptized believer.
His brothers and sister had been baptized, but he never knew why he had not. He lived his life feeling like a nobody, which led to drinking and other things lost people do. Whether he never felt good enough or at times didn’t care, he never sought out baptism all those years. Maybe he came to Mass with us once at Christmas. But now, he really felt the weight of his years of indecision. He was lost.
Eventually my father moved to be closer to me and began coming to church. After a year or so, he asked me about RCIA. So he began a process in which he probably only understood twenty-five percent of what he heard but he loved one hundred percent of the journey. At the age of seventy-five, Harold Welliver, Jr., was baptized and fully initiated into the Catholic Church.
He said this to me, which I will remember and quote forever: “I was someone who didn’t belong to anyone or anything, and now I belong.” Jesus says in John’s Gospel, “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.” My father passed away three years ago. I miss him every day. He is gone from this world, but he is lost no more.
IDEA FOR RESPONSE
Find your baptismal certificate and place it in a frame. Hang it somewhere in your house where you can regularly see it. It can be for all to see, like in a living room, or only for you, like in a walk-in closet. Let it remind you each time you see it that you belong.
TAKE TIME TO REFLECT
Who are 3 people I know that need to feel a greater sense of belonging? How can I help them, including praying for them?