Noelene – Funeral Homily,
‘She did not die alone but was accompanied by love. ….’
It was very moving to sit with the family, with Noelene’s husband Geoff in the first instance, and with her son Hayden and his wife Eva, with her daughter Emilia and her husband Chris and with a couple of friends from Ireland. We sat quietly around Noelene who lay there with the calm look of sleep. We listened to a favourite piece of music which we will hear later in this Mass. We read the prayers and heard the story of Lazarus being restored to his sisters Martha and Mary. We signed her on the forehead with the mark of the cross as a promise of the great happiness which is to come.
It was moving to see the great care the family showed to Noelene during her illness, the affection that is so much part of this family. Most moving was the account given by Geoff of how he and Noelene looked steadfastly into each other’s eyes as she quietly slipped away. She did not die alone but was accompanied by love. What a blessed parting! What a lifetime of regard and affection made it possible for this to happen so simply and so naturally. Geoff gave her a pledge of his constant love and assured her of the future.
What a blessing it is to find someone who can look into the eyes and the heart. What a blessing it is to be reassured by the Christian faith, for it is our belief, as St Paul says in his famous letter to the Corinthians, that ‘at present we see as through a reflection in a mirror, but then we shall see face to face. We shall know as we are known.’ Indeed, we proclaim to the skies that there is Someone who can look into the inmost recesses of our spirit, to the very depths of our being, into our memories, into our lives. God looks, not to reprove or to condemn or but with understanding, wanting to look in wonder at our look of wonder. The look we give to each other is the sacrament of the eternal. God looks in our looking. As the disciples looked at Jesus they could see the God who sent him. As we look at each other in love we can see the Christ and his God.
So Noelene slipped away and no longer looked on this world. But as Noelene’s eyes closed they began to look on another landscape. It is the constant teaching of the Christian faith that those who die in love can see more deeply. What does she see? Those artistic eyes of hers, so aware of beauty, what do they see now? She contemplated the beauty of art because she wanted to see the eternal beauty from which all art comes. What does she sees now. What does she hope we will see?
What a pity for those who do not entertain such hope. What sadness for those who do not have someone into whose eyes they can look steadily and lovingly. What a mistake for those who say there is no one who can see into the deepest recesses of their being with affection and salvation.
We look forward to seeing Noelene again. What pleasure that will be. As we see her we will see the God who looks in her. We will see each other in each other, presence upon presence, eyes within eyes. Marvellous things are in store for us. Let us look forward to her future and ours.