Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Homily for Momma

Fr. Paul, the priest at my home parish, only knew Momma for a few months before she died.  But in his homily for her funeral, I feel that he knew her through and through.  Perhaps it was his grace as a priest. Perhaps it was her "transparency" among friends and those she trusted.  Either way, his words were from his heart, and they spoke to ours.  Here is the text, if you want to read it.

[First Reading: Judith 15:8-10
Second Reading: 2 Cor 5:1-10
Gospel: Matt 5:13-14]

As I was meditating on these readings, I said to myself, "How beautiful these words speak of Jeanette, herself." I said to myself, "The life of Jeanette was so faith filled that she lived her life in the presence of all of us."

But as I reflect on the words today, the words of scripture -- that had been chosen by Jeanette and her family for this Mass -- speak about her. And if Jeanette was here she would promptly tell us, "Yes! But, God comes first!" She would like to hear the words of God, for it was the heart of her life.

And as we listen to the first reading, we hear of a very beautiful lady, one that was still with the spirit of God. And she wanted not the praise of the people, but that her life should be dedicated to the service of God. And in giving service to God she obtained great joy, peace, and happiness. So much so, like King David, she danced for the Lord. And as I thought about this, I said to myself, "Yes, Jeanette, go ahead and dance for our God. You did everything for God and rightly so. Just like Judith, you go ahead and dance. Dance for Him that we here can only imagine the great Love, the Joy, and Happiness you have the pleasure of doing before our God.

Then in the second reading of today, from St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians, it speaks of our human body as a dwelling tent, something that has been given to us to use so that we may glorify God through the Son. And it's not meant for us to live an endless life here on this Earth. St. Paul is telling us that, so that we may use it to serve God, so that we too may achieve eternal happiness. None of us would love to stay on forever in this life because we were all promised the Goodness and the Greatness of our Heavenly Kingdom. So much so, that if we only realize how beautiful this existence with God is, I'm sure we would ask the Lord to take us home Today.

As I was sitting with Jeanette one morning, she was by herself, and as we sat and she shared with me, she said, "Father, I am tired. I want to go Home." And I said to her, "Jeanette, God is waiting. He has given you the time, the time to prepare yourself, so that when the hour comes, you can surrender your life to the Lord, just like Christ did on the cross. You carry this cross in your body for your salvation and the salvation of your Loved Ones. When the time comes it will be like the transfiguration, when Jesus was transformed into the beauty of His eternal existence." And as we watched the transfiguration through the story, then we understand how beautiful that Life will be. And we know that when the hour comes we will be like stepping out of this body and into the glorified body prepared for us by God, Himself.

And in today's Gospel reading, Jesus speaks about the Salt. He says, "You are the salt of the Earth." Continue to be salt of the Earth. Use your salt to enhance the taste of salt and your light, not to hide it, but to display it in the quality of life and the relationship that you shared with God. The greater our relationship with God, the better the quality of salt and light we demonstrate through our lives. Yes, Jeanette was the salt of the earth. She salted the lives of all those people she touched through her work at St. Ann’s, through the RCIA, the CCD, and all the other programs. Jeanette allowed the light to shine forth in her life. And this light came through her prayer life. Jeanette was a woman of great prayer.

As we were sharing that morning, she said to me, "Father, I love my family." And I said, "Love is a gift from God. If you love your family it shows your deep love for God." She said, "But Father, I am tired. But, since Richard wants to go to the Congress, I will go with him." And she built up that courage and strength to make sure it became a reality in their lives. And not only that, she spoke very lovingly of her children. She was so proud of all of them and she was looking forward to the day of her two grand children's Baptism, which would have taken place in May. She said, "Father, I am looking forward to that. That will be my last Joy." But God said, "No. Come home to Me. I need you."

And as I went to anoint her on the evening that she passed away, she said to me, "Father, I'm finding it so hard to pray," and I said to her, "Jeanette, let your soul pray. God hears the prayer of your soul. You don't have to use words. He knows what you are trying to say to Him. Surrender yourself to Him and allow Him to take you where He wants."

Jeanette, we thank God for the gift of you. We take from you the many good lessons that you teach us about God and we pray that you will pray for us that we may become the Salt of the Earth and the Light of the world, just like you showed us.

May you rest in peace.

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