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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Beloved of children and of God

Just days after my arrival, I received news of the death of one of the parishioners in this place.  Although I never had the opportunity to meet her in this place, her awakening to eternal life opened the door for me to meet others of her family.

Funeral homily for Bernadette Morin

Ever since she began living across the street from this church, Bernie (I'm told that was her preferred name) could look out her front window and feel the security of knowing that God was always near. Today, the community of believers - Bernie's family and friends - have crossed the street to offer a prayer for her and to pray also that God will bring comfort and consolation to all those who are saddened at this time.

Bernie had a special place in her heart for children. For many years, she opened her heart and her home to welcome and care for them.  Parents entrusted her with the special task of caring for their treasures. She grew to love every one of them and they in turn grew to love her.  This is what Jesus asks all of us to do: to open our hearts, to welcome the little ones and to share with them the joy that fills our hearts.  In this way, we build relationships, we find opportunities to share ourselves with others and we discover opportunities to tell others about our faith.  The gospels refer to this willingness as being dressed for action and having our lamps lit (Lk 12:35).

We might ask ourselves: what action is Jesus talking about and what kind of lamp does he want me to carry?  After all, he told his disciples that they should always be ready because the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour (Lk 12:40). This advice, given so many years ago, is still being whispered today in the ears of Jesus' disciples like Bernie and you and me.

Being dressed for action includes the certainty that physical death is not the end of the story. Jesus came to live among us so that we might come to believe that even if these physical bodies of ours should whither and become weak, our souls are always in the hands of God (Wis 3:1).  Therefore we have an inheritance to look forward to and this treasure is called immortal life spent with God in heaven.  This is the treasure that is spoken of in the reading from the Book of Wisdom that we heard today.

This was the promise made to Bernie on the day of her baptism. It is the same promise that is made to all of us. Our sister in faith has now completed her earthly journey, but this is not the end of her journey. Today, we commend her immortal soul to the mercy of God, trusting that from now on, she will live for all eternity with him (cf Rom 6:9), and when our time comes to enter into eternal life, she will be waiting to welcome us at heaven's door.
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