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Thursday, July 27, 2017

She had an influence

Some people have the rare gift to influence the lives of others even in a matter of moments.  Today, we celebrated the funeral of one such woman.  She touched the lives of countless others, perhaps in ways she was never aware of.  For all that she has given, we give thanks to God as we entrust her soul into his loving embrace.

Funeral homily for Lisette Willett

We have all come to this church today to give thanks to God for the great privilege he has granted us to have known and to have benefitted from the deep wisdom of his beloved daughter Lisette.  On countless other occasions, she was the one who often found occasions to gather people together: whether it was to celebrate a joyous occasion or to support others in their time of need, she always knew how to take care of others.  Why should today be any different?  On this day, when we commend her eternal soul into the arms of our God, she has gathered us once again in this place so that we will not be alone, so that we can find comfort and solace in the company of those we love, and so that we can be strengthened in our faith through God’s word that is being spoken in our hearts.

Jesus calls out to us at this very moment with the words we heard in today’s gospel passage: Come to me, all you who labour and are over burdened, and I will give you rest (Mt 11:28).  In a very short time – a matter of less than two years – Lisette is the fourth of her immediate family to have completed her mortal existence.  Grief is hard on people: we are tired out by the questions that it leaves in our souls, and yet it is at the moments when we are most wearied by life’s challenges that God whispers in our ears: remember ... I am gentle and humble in heart; you will find rest for your souls (Mt 11:29) if only you will let me hold you ever so gently in the palm of my hand.

Let us allow ourselves to rest in the Lord’s presence and to reflect for just a moment on all that we have shared with Lisette.  She has been taken from us far too soon and yet each of us can admit that our lives are not the same today as they were before.  The words of Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans are just as true today as they were when he first wrote them: the life and death of each of us has its influence on others. We are not always aware of the impact our words and actions have on others, yet even if we don’t speak any words at all, our actions will speak loudly about our deepest beliefs.

We have come to pray today for Lisette because we believe that this is not the end of the road for her.  Admittedly, her mortal remains have returned to dust, yet her spirit is alive and well.  She knew that this day would come, she knew that one day her immortal soul would be separated from the body that was increasingly weakened by the ravages of disease and we too know that our time will come: We shall all have to stand before the judgment seat of God ... it is to God that we will all have to give an account of ourselves (Rom 14:10-12).

Those of us who knew Lisette in this life know that she was a strong person, that she was a person of faith and conviction.  Would we dare to call her a virtuous person?  She was well respected by all who knew her, not because of her length of days (cf Wis 4:7) but rather because of her understanding, her ability to see goodness in others and to believe in others even when they found it difficult to believe in themselves.  Today, we thank God for having permitted us to grow in wisdom because of the life we have shared with Lisette.  May she rest forever in the presence of God, and continue to watch over us, to guide us and to inspire us until the day when we are reunited with her in our heavenly home.
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