On this mountain he will destroy
the veil that veils all peoples,
the web that is woven over all nations;
he will destroy death forever.
The Lord GOD will wipe away
the tears from every face;
the reproach of his people he will remove
from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. — Isaiah 25:7-9
Back in the early 2000’s, a dear friend of ours was dying of cancer. He was terrified of death, mostly because he had “lived life hard,” as he put it, “and did serious wrong to a lot of people” before he came back to his Catholic faith late in life. He was afraid that all those people would be waiting for him on the other side of the grave, there to accuse him before God. No matter how much assurance he received in sacramental absolution, he held tight to his past.
My wife visited him in hospice with three of our children, all of whom were under 6 or under. The last time she went to see him, he was weepy and visibly panicked by the nearness of death. One of my children jumped up on his bed and said to him, “Don’t worry Mr. Pat, it’s gonna be okay!” Which only made him cry more.
A few hours after Patti and the children left, the woman who had been at his side throughout his chemotherapy and dying called me at work. She said, “Pat just passed to the Lord. I wanted your family to know what happened. After your wife and children visited and then left, Pat was, as usual, inconsolable. I went over to him and said, ‘Did you hear what that boy said to you?’ He nodded. Then I told him, ‘Don’t you know Jesus sent a child to you to prepare you to meet Him? Those words he said were straight from the Heart of God, ‘Don’t worry Patrick, it’s gonna be okay.’ He quieted down, closed his eyes and relaxed his breathing. I left the room, and he flat-lined. I just wanted you all to know that.”
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them. — Isaiah 11:6