Recently, I had the privilege of giving the homily at the funeral Mass for a fellow deacon. Here are excerpts from it:
"Pope Benedict XVI in one of his Lenten messages said: 'The greatest work of charity is evangelization because its purpose is to lead other people to Christ and bring them into a personal relationship with Him.' Christ came precisely to bring us back home to the Father. You alone know the specific ways Deacon Rick helped lead you to a closer relationship with Christ, our Lord.
And so we come to celebrate his life at this Mass and more importantly, to pray to God to grant him him his eternal reward. While his beloved wife Rachel, and daughter, Marie, especially feel the most grief over the loss of their loved one, our Faith gives us reason to rejoice, because Christ has conquered death and has risen. And as we have been buried with Christ in the waters of Baptism, we will also rise with Him. And as He tells us in our Gospel, He has come to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house, where there will be no more tears but only joy living with Him and His saints forever.
I think that the final act of evangelization of Deacon Rick is our seeing his mortal remains now lying still in death as if telling us, not in words, but in a practical, no longer merely doctrinal way, that all of us, whoever we are, whatever our health condition is, will come to this point in our earthly life, but that there is nothing to fear provided we have tried to please the Lord and do His will in our lives. St Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians: “Therefore we aspire to please Him . . . for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive recompense, according to what we did in the body, whether good or evil.”
Each funeral, therefore, is a reminder about who we really are, about the value given us by Jesus that we are children of God destined to be with Him forever. It is a homily that reminds us that we are all called to be saints and that we should aspire for it daily. That is our earthly life's goal.
For a saint is one who by his life is actually saying: “I love the Lord and I will follow Him, with all my joys and the cross He gives me. A saint is one who at the back of his/her mind is saying: “I want to go to the house of the Father.”
When the Lord is ready to call us, our faithfulness to Christ can only make us say our own final words: “Let me go to the house of my Father.” And we have more than reasonable hope for this because Christ Himself said: “I have prepared a place for you in My Father’s house. Come, my good and faithful servant! Enter the joy of My Father’s house!”#
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.Where I am going you know the way.” Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?”Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:1-6