Saturday, June 8, 2019

Renewed in hope

We celebrated a memorial Mass this morning, remembering one of the men who has been part of this community for many years.  May he rest now in the arms of our loving God.

Funeral homily for Claude Boileau

For the past twenty years, Claude and Brona have been running away from the winter chill and basking in the Texas sunshine.  The last time that many of us saw them together was shortly before they escaped last fall.  We wished them Merry Christmas and parted ways, all the while believing that we would see each other again in the Spring.  Why not?  That's the way it has been for many years ... and then we learned the shocking news that God had other plans.

At a certain level, we all know that our time will come (cf Rom 5:17), but many of us prefer not to think about such moments, because at least from a human perspective, the thought of being separated from someone we love is heartbreaking.  In fact, when the time was drawing close for Jesus to be separated from his disciples, he knew that they too were disturbed.  The words he spoke to them then, he speaks to us now: Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God ... and trust in me (Jn 14:1).  These are not merely human words; they are words that were spoken by Jesus, the Son of God, the one who already knew the truth about the way that he would walk, the way that leads us to the fullness of life.

Today, as we gather in this place, let us listen closely for these words that Jesus offers to us: Do not let your hearts be troubled, trust in God, and trust in me.  Jesus has been whispering these words in our ears ever since the day of our baptism.  He has been inviting us to stay close to him, just as he invited the disciples to stay close to him, to learn from him, to look to him whenever we are in trouble and to trust that he will show us the way (cf Jn 14:5-6).

We pause the routine of our daily lives today to thank God for having shared Claude with us for these past eight decades.  Shortly after Brona retuned from Texas, she spoke with me about wanting to plan this celebration.  This is the way that we Catholics remember and celebrate the lives of our loves ones.  We bring them back home to the Church and we gather in trust to pray for them, because we believe that if in union with Christ, we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection (Rom 6:5).  Every day, we are given another opportunity to realize this truth: we are all children of our God, and we are destined to live with him for all eternity in heaven.

Knowing this to be true, we celebrate today, for our brother Claude, who we have known as a loving father, a doting grandfather, a friend and a confidant, no longer lives among us, but rather in the presence of our God.  He will no longer sit at our tables, but rather he is sitting at the Lord's banquet table.

As we gather around the altar to celebrate the Eucharist, we find here a foretaste of the heavenly banquet that awaits us all (cf Is 25:6).  Let us approach, let us receive the precious gift of the Eucharist.  This special food strengthens our faith and helps us to look beyond the veil of mourning that has enveloped us (cf Is 25:7), so that we can be renewed in hope (cf Is 25:9) and look forward to the day when we will see Claude again.

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