Homily at the Funeral Mass
Stella Maris, Beaumaris,
27 October, 2000
“And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.” John 6:39
Noreen was a woman of great vitality, but now there is a great gap, a sudden shocking emptiness. How could such a vital woman be dead? Her expansiveness and her inspiration were welcome to so many. How could it be gone?
The words of the Gospel are appropriate: “The will of him who sent me is that I should lose nothing of all that he has given to me.” Nothing of all that was good in Noreen will be lost, for goodness recognises goodness; mercy is merciful to those who have shown mercy. Jesus whom we call good, sees the store of goodness in every person’s life, takes hold of it and values it.
Noreen’s sudden death has been a blow. It brings us to our senses and makes us ask the great questions. What is the purpose of life? How can true happiness be found? What happens after death? The trauma of death reveals to us what is important in life. It makes us go deeper and further so that we discover sources of life we did not know existed. It makes us realise that forgiveness and closeness, affection and unity, justice and peace are what count above all. It invites us to put aside disaffection and estrangement and so to seek reconciliation.
Jesus goes on to say “And I will raise them up on the last day.” Some may laugh and say it is only make-believe, a sop to our fear. But anyone who has felt within themselves the secret everlasting fountain, knows that death is a passing thing. Furthermore, Christians believe that Jesus experienced both the highest state of life and the worst degradation. They know that death could not hold sway over him, for he transcends life and death. He chose to enter into death and to be crucified so that he could turn sin and death into a source of life and vitality. He will turn Noreen’s death into a source of life for us.
Jesus is alive in our midst, hidden to those who as yet live on the surface of things, but known by those who have been wounded and yet forgive, who have been struck down and are yet confident. Jesus will recognise Noreen and take her to himself, the vital with the vital. At a level beyond our imagining, Jesus who is life will give life to Noreen who so enjoyed life. We live and partly live, and to us death is a problem, but not to Jesus who has gone beyond death.
Noreen invites us to enjoy life and to give thanks to God every day, for life is beautiful and eternity is magnificent.