‘I go on ahead to prepare a place for you!” Jesus speaks these words to his disciples on the eve of his death as he sits at table with them and senses their sadness as they grapple with his dying, his going away.

His words are meant to console them and give them the assurance that they aren’t being abandoned. It’s just that he is going on ahead to prepare a place for them to come and join him later.

That story speaks to me very personally because of how one of my sisters died. She was young, the mother of a large family, and seemingly too young to leave her small children behind. She was dying of a cancer which, while relentlessly doing its deadly work, mercifully left her relatively pain-free and clear in mind and heart to the very end. The cancer eventually took her to a point where she could no longer eat, but could still be nourished for a time by intravenous transfusions.

But these too eventually no longer worked and, once unhooked from the intravenous needles, she was told that she had roughly a week to live. She chose to spend those last days in a hospital rather than at home, with her family having easy, 24-hour access to her hospice bed.

The days leading up to her death were a sacred time. I took her Communion several days before she died and, with her head still very clear, she told me what I should say at her funeral liturgy.

She had chosen that exact text where Jesus, on the night before he dies, tells his heavy-hearted disciples that he is going ahead, to prepare a place for them.

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