St Joseph’s Church, West Brunswick, 15 April 2008, Fr John Dupuche PP
We have come in large numbers here to this family church of the Santamaria’s, to celebrate not your past, Jaye, but your future. We won’t dwell with nostalgia on what has been; rather we will look forward with anticipation to what will be; not on what might have been but on what is promised to you. For in the first reading the Voice clearly proclaims: ‘Behold I make all things new’. And you will be made new, Jaye. The day of your death, Thursday last, was in fact your birthday. The day of your birth has become the day of your rebirth. And that is what you wanted, with every fibre of your being. You wanted a new beginning, a new identity, a new self. And that is what we all want; we all wish to be made anew in body, mind and spirit. We are only the shadow of our future selves. What will you be like, when you have been made new? In the words of the first reading, you will be more beautiful than a bride dressed for her husband.
You loved to hold children in your arms, as seen in the photos which Maree showed last Sunday night; you loved to hold and to be held. Later on this morning we will place you near your mother who held you in her loving arms on the day of your birth, but above all we now place you in the hands of God who formed you like clay in his potter’s hands. On Tuesday evening of last week I embraced you gently, knowing that I would never see you again in this world, and as I left you reached out your feeble arms, wanting to hold and to be held. Like St Therese of Lisieux, you had the spirituality of childhood, as one to whom God reveals his mysteries, hiding them from the learned and the clever.
For what counted in your life was to accept and to be accepted. You accepted people for what they were and in turn invited people to accept you in your essence. You were indeed ambitious for the highest gift. Some place great store by the office they exercise in politics or in the Church, but you sought the highest gift. As St Paul says: it is love which gives value; and without it, our deeds are just the noise of clashing cymbals. We live and partly live, we know at present only in a glass darkly; but then we shall know as fully as we are known, we shall love as fully as we are loved. This fullness of love was your desire. This is the ambition which you held and which you asked of all who came into contact with you. Where others harboured ambitions and formed plans and rejoiced in achievements that seem so impressive, you were the real high flyer. You wanted not possessions but simplicity, closeness not control. You have, in fact, been a criterion, a bench mark, a measuring stick.
The number of people gathered here is a sign of how much you affected them. Your father, Bernard, said last Sunday, you may have known – or you may not have known – how many people you touched, how you were able to draw people to yourself, for you judged no one.
During your life on earth you lived always in the present, now you will live in the eternal present, in the Kingdom of light and truth, present to every age and place.
So now you have gone, and we cannot meet and converse as in former times. The world of the past has gone and we feel abandoned. Maree, burdened by the grief of losing her only sister, her twin sister whom she had known from the very beginning, said she wanted to die soon and so to be with you. But that is not the way. How will you look when you return with all the saints; what radiance will come from your transfigured self. What peals of laughter will lighten up your eyes, you who loved to laugh, as the photos which Maree showed the other day reveal so well. And you will invite us to your table at the banquet of heaven, as you used so much in former times to enjoy preparing meals and sit at table with your friends.
You lit a candle for John Paul II at St Francis’ church in the city on the day of his passing. We have come to light candles for you, to read texts of Scripture for you, to eat and drink the Consecrated Food for you. During your life on earth you lived always in the present, now you will live in the eternal present, in the Kingdom of light and truth, present to every age and place. We pray for you now, but we ask you, Jaye, pray for us, always pray for us.