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Thursday, May 26, 2016

If we live, we live for the Lord

Here is the text of the reflection I prepared for the celebration of the Funeral Mass which took place this morning: a look back at a life faith and a look forward to the reward he now enjoys as recompense for his labours and his faith.

Funeral homily for Alberindo Palladino

Cari fratelli e sorelle, siamo radunati in questo luogo santo per rendere grazie a Dio per la vita del suo servo Alberindo, e per raccomandare la sua anima eterna al nostro Dio e Salvatore, e per affidarla alle sue braccia amorrose.  Abbiamo condiviso una parte del suo viaggio terrestre nella fede, siamo venuti adesso per consolare la sua moglie, i suoi figli e nipoti e la sua grande famiglia; siamo uniti tutti in questo atto di fede che stiamo realizzando ora.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are gathered in this holy place to give thanks to God for the life of his servant Alberindo, to commend his eternal soul to our God and Saviour, and to entrust him into his loving arms.  We have shared a part of his earthly journey in faith; now we have come to console his wife, his children and his grandchildren as well as his extended family; we are all united in this act of faith which is now being accomplished.

We began this liturgy at the entrance of the church by sprinkling Alberindo’s casket with holy water.  This simple act is a reminder of the moment at which he was baptized and became a precious child of God.  At that moment, his parents accepted the obligation to share the treasure of their faith with him.  With the help of other members of his family, and other people of faith who were present to teach him by word and by example, he learned the true meaning of discipleship.  Saint Paul describes discipleship in terms of living for others.  He says: If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord (Rom 14:8).  Alberindo cherished his beloved wife.  Together, they shared sixty years of life together.  Their two children and their grandchildren have always been the focus of their attention and love.  Every day of his life, Alberindo lived for you.  You were always in his thoughts and in his heart, just as his faith was also knitted into the fabric of his being.  In you, he saw the fulfillment of the Lord's promise, the joy and the delight that is the reward of our faith.  This joy, he gladly shared with all those he met.  It was apparent whenever he sang or held his beloved accordion.  Indeed, the dream for all of us who are disciples is that our every breath should be a song of praise offered to God.  Today we thank our God for the example we have been given in the life of our brother.

Nato nel Carpinoni, Alberindo e Maria hanno lasciato l'Italia e si sono trasferiti in Canada ricercando cossì una vita migliore per la loro famiglia. Grazie a Dio, egli a trovato un lavoro a l'albergo Empire qui a North Bay. E proprio lì che ha incontrato molte persone di tutti i livelli sociali. All'albergo o a casa, o in qualsiasi incontro tra i numerosi che ha avuto con la gente, era sempre pronto a condividere la sua fede: a piantare nei cuori degli altri il desiderio di vivere, di ridere e di amare (cf Ecc 3:2). Ricercava sempre modi per distruggere i muri che ci separano gli uni dagli altri (cf Ecc 3:3); voleva piuttosto costruire ponti nella serena convinzione che siamo tutti fratelli e sorelle, che abbiamo un solo Padre, e che il nostro Padre ci ama con amore infinito.
Born in Carpinoni, Alberindo and Maria left Italy and came to Canada in search of a better life for their family.  Thanks to God, he found work at the Empire hotel here in North Bay.  It was there that he met many people from various levels of society.  At the hotel or in his home, or in any one of a number of meetings which he had with people, he was always ready to share his music and his faith: to plant in the hearts of others the desire to live, to laugh and to love (cf Ecc 3:2).  Always seeking ways to tear down the walls that separate us from others (cf Ecc 3:3), he preferred to build bridges, serenely convinced that we are all brothers and sisters, that we have only one Father, and that our Father loves us with infinite love.

This is the secret to truly living: Jesus calls all of his disciples to give ourselves out of love for others.  In fact, the level to which we love will be the measure of our worthiness for heaven.  This is the meaning of the scene that is described in the gospel passage we have heard during this liturgy.  Jesus told his disciples, and we are all his disciples, that we will all have to stand before the Son of Man when he comes in his glory (Mt 25:31).  His judgement about the lives that we have lived will be measured through a series of observations: I was hungry … I was thirsty … I was a stranger … I was naked … I was sick … I was in prison … and you came to my help (cf Mt 25:35-36).

Per più di otto decenni, Alberindo a cercato di seguire i comandamenti del Signore. A volte, non avevo tanto denaro, ma c'era sempre cibo per sfamare una bocca affamata. Nel suo cuore, c'era sempre posto per coloro che erano assetati, soprattutto se avevano sete di fede, di amore e di gioia. Che fossi amico di famiglia o affatto sconosciuto, ti avrebbe sempre accolto al suo tavolo. In realtà, se tu fossi stato in qualsiasi bisogno, sarebbe sempre stato pronto ad aiutarti.
For more than eight decades, Alberindo tried to follow the Lord's commandments.  At times, he did not have much money, but there was always food to feed a hungry mouth.  In his heart, there was always room for those who were thirsty, especially if they were thirsty for faith, for love and for joy.  No matter whether you were a family friend or a total stranger, he would always welcome you to his table.  In truth, if anyone were in need, he would always be ready to help.

We are currently observing a Jubilee Year of Mercy, a time to recognize the merciful face of Jesus, and what better image can we have of the Father than that of the merciful judge who awaits the day when our earthly life comes to an end and we return to the Father’s house?  Today as we give thanks for the life of this man of faith, we ask our God, whose name is Mercy to have mercy on his soul and to welcome him into his eternal reward.  May he who always sought to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, now be welcomed into the arms of our brother Jesus, and may our heavenly mother keep close to her tender heart all those who are saddened at this moment.  Through her prayers, may we all experience the heavenly gifts of God’s mercy and enlightened by faith, may we go forth into the world to be joyful witnesses of his love.
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