Thursday, June 13, 2013

Homily Delivered At My Mother's Funeral

My mother, Margaret "Marna" Jones passed away on June 8, 2013.  I assisted at her Funeral Mass, and preached the following homily:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’” 

This past week, I have been reading a book by Paul Elie, titled: “The Life You Save May be Your Own, An American Pilgrimage.”   In it he tells the life stories of four American Catholics; social activist, Dorothy Day, Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, and authors Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy.  He describes each of their lives as being on pilgrimage.  Now according to Wikipedia,  the term, “pilgrimage,” has been defined as a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance.  Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other location of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith, although sometimes it can be a metaphorical journey into someone’s own beliefs.  If we take a look into the Bible, do we see many stories of persons on pilgrimage, seeking  an understanding of this relationship they have with God.  Abraham leaves his home to go to a strange country, because he hears this divine voice telling him to do so.  Moses leads the people of Israel through the deserts and wastelands, on a very difficult pilgrimage, so they may discover what it means to be God’s special people.  And can we say that Jesus himself was leading his Apostles on pilgrimage; going throughout Galilee and Judea, they watched Him heal the sick; reconcile sinners, and perform wondrous miracles.  It was a pilgrimage that would end in Jerusalem, where the Apostles would witness the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

I would put to you that at the moment of our baptism, when we rose from the baptismal waters to new life in Christ; each of us began our own pilgrimage of faith; following Jesus who is the way.  Mom began her own pilgrimage of faith in such a way; she strove to love God and love her neighbor.  She, a born Catholic, fell in love with Bill, a convert to the faith; and together they continued their pilgrimage of faith.  They raised a family which they loved; they took care of my siblings and me; loved us, tried to share with us the experience of faith they both had.  With the renewal of the Church that came from the Second Vatican Council; Mom and Dad saw their pilgrimage taking a deeper, a more spiritual turn.  Mom would discover deeper prayer, sharing these experiences with fellow pilgrims of this parish.    Sadly, a couple of years ago, she found herself traveling on this pilgrimage alone, because Dad had passed away.  And the journey was becoming more difficult, the road getting rough, darker, obstacles getting in the way.  Sometimes the pilgrimage took such a toll on her, that we know she sometimes gave into despair.  But she was never alone on this journey.  Jesus was with her always, walking beside her and holding her up. He is the truth and the life; that came to her through Scripture, and through the Eucharist, renewed her soul and gave her strength.  And through each of us, her children, through the grace the Holy Spirit shared with each one of us, he let Mom know, that she was loved. 

And now I must share with you this belief that I hold deep within core of my being; that through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, death is not the end of the pilgrimage for her, as it will not be the end of any of our pilgrimages; only now it will be a journey of joy, peace and hope.  We pray that at the end of her pilgrimage, she will find that place Christ has prepared, where she will be surrounded by the ones she loved.  And we pray she will be in the hand of God; the she will be forever in His embrace.

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life.’”  

Eternal rest grant to her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her.