Here is the text of the homily I prepared for the funeral of one of this city's long-standing residents. He died in mid-March of this year, but we were only able to celebrate the Mass of Resurrection today.
Our brother Raymond completed his earthly journey in mid-March of this year, and finally, today, we are gathered together to celebrate his funeral Mass. The pandemic that struck earlier this year has changed our lives completely, but we still continue to live, to grieve and to celebrate the Sacraments and moments of significance, including this moment of faith.
We are here in this place today to celebrate and to give thanks to God for the gift that Raymond has been to each and every one of us. It is important that we take this time to mark this transition, both for him and for us. Raymond is no longer physically present to us, but Jesus reminded his disciples - and he reminds us now - that even now, we should continue to believe in him and to believe in God. ‘In my Father’s house, there are many dwellings’. There is a place in heaven for each one of us, and Jesus has already promised us that when our earthly lives are completed, that place will always be waiting for us. This is what we celebrate today for Raymond: he is now at home with God in heaven.
This moment also allows us to be aware of the path that we are walking as we make our way through life. Like the disciples, there is always a part of us that is uncertain about the future. At some level, we too ask the question that Thomas asked of Jesus: ‘We do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way …’ and Jesus responds to us in the same way as he spoke to Thomas: ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’. Whenever we are doubtful, all we need to do is look to Jesus. He is the way that leads us to the Father. He has gone before us and he has prepared the path for us.
Our brother Raymond has completed his earthly journey. Now, we believe that he is in heaven, where he will live for all eternity. The prophet Isaiah has spoken of ‘new heavens and a new earth where we will be be glad and rejoice forever’. What a wonderful vision that evokes!
Gathered in this place today, we remember and give thanks for all the moments that we have shared with Raymond: the joys, the struggles, the trials and the triumphs … and we give thanks today for God’s enduring promise of love. We entrust our brother to the mercy of God and we look forward in faith to the day when we will see him once again in heaven.