Errol enjoyed discussions, especially theological. My meetings with him invariably led to speaking of the mysteries of faith and their relation to life. I too relished those themes. My family tended to such dialogues with Errol – and even without him!
In the first reading at the funeral Mass from the Apocalypse, the phrase ‘New Heaven and New Earth’ characterized what we desired most through our explorations of thought. Errol, steeped in academic theology, could see that scholarship would be incomplete without an attempt to bring newness into daily life. He accepted that to be Christian the cry of humanity for food, clothing and security were to be accepted as a religious task no less than secular.
The Gospel at the Mass describes Jesus in crucified agony. The cry “My God, my God why am I forsaken me” expressed the last days of Errol in his infirmary bed. For the ‘New Heaven and New Earth’ come with their price of great suffering. It is the way Jesus lived, agonized and died, to rise and show the way to his followers.
Errol’s last days were marked by great pain and struggle but he accepted these as God’s will. It was hard to see him unable to eat – again in line with the inability of Jesus to drink the vinegar – breathing heavily, discomfort written all over his face. And our infirmary staff and my sisters, in the tradition of those women by the Cross, tried every way to comfort him.
So that was the way he would share the task of bringing in the New Heaven and the New Earth. There was nothing enviable in his situation, but in many ways reminiscent of his Lord. I just hope the New Heaven and Earth come upon us. And I pray for strength to bear some part of the Passion of the Christ that Errol went through.
- Godfrey D’Lima, SJ