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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Now walking in the newness of life

Some people are privileged to live long lives that are blessed with health and happiness; others are taken from us much too soon, and yet it is only once we have realized that they no longer walk among us that we truly begin to appreciate the gift that they were and are.

Funeral homily for Deanna Boisvert

The members of Dede’s spiritual family have gathered around you, her beloved mother, her sisters and her friends to support you in this time of loss.  A little more than five decades ago, Basil and Vivian brought Dede to the Church and asked for her to be baptized.  Water was poured over her head on that day, and she became a precious child of God.  This simple act – of pouring water over her head – has a much deeper meaning, one that we are witnessing today.

At the moment of our baptism, we believe that God welcomes us and claims us to be his precious child, and because we are his children, we are also heirs to the promise of eternal life with him in heaven.  Just as Christ was raised from the dead … so we too will walk in the newness of life (cf Rom 6:4) when our lives here on earth are ended.  This is the hope to which we all aspire.  Day by day, week by week, we gather with others who have also been baptized, others who have also come to believe that Jesus is the son of God.  Here in this place, and in other locations like this, we listen for his word that guides and instructs us, and then we go out into the world to share the good news that we have encountered here, the constant and never-ending love that God has for us, with everyone we meet.

God’s love is unconditional: there is nothing that we have done to merit it, and there is nothing that we can do to earn it; love is pure gift.  When we realize this truth in our lives, we are filled with joy and gratitude and we want to tell others about it.  Having discovered the gift of God’s love, we in turn want to love others, because love is something that we can never keep for ourselves; it begs to be shared.  It is encountered in the gentle presence of warm sunlight, in the calm waters of a lake and in the gentle breeze that brushes across our faces.  It is also discovered in the relationships that we cultivate with others: with friends and family who we invite into the confines of our confidences, with other sentient creatures such as pets, sometimes even in the presence of plants that calm us and assure us of the quiet presence of their Creator.

God our Father created us and has loved each one of us from the day of our conception.  He is present to us at every step of life’s journey.  We celebrate his presence in a special way through the Sacraments: moments of grace that are given in order to strengthen us so that we can continue our journey in faith.  Each such moment of grace prepares us for the moment when our earthly journey comes to an end.  We believe that at that moment, our souls will return home to heaven, to the place where we are meant to live forever with God.  In fact, God has promised us that he will put his own spirit within us, and we shall live (Ez 12:14).  In other words, he will breathe new life into our spirits, and we will live forever with him, even as our earthly bodies, the vessels that have hosted our precious and eternal souls will be returned to the earth from which they were created.

This is a truth that defies all human logic, yet it is a truth that we can trust because Jesus came from heaven in order to remind us that his Father, our Father loves us unconditionally, with infinite love.  As we make our way through life, all of us encounter certain moments that scare us, especially experiences that place us face to face with an unknown future.  Yet, Jesus reassured his disciples: Do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God and believe in me (Jn 14:1).

Today, we give thanks to God for having allowed us the great privilege of having known and loved Dede.  We ask him now to take her eternal soul to heaven, so that she can live there in the fullness of joy with him and with Basil and with all those who have gone before us … and we ask him to strengthen our faith so that if we should ever be tempted to doubt his promise, he will always find a way to remind us that not only do we know where he is, where he waits for us, but we also know the way to the place where he has gone before us (Jn 14:4).
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