Friday, January 9, 2015

Homily for the Funeral of Patrick Ruane

As he stared into the grave of his friend and saw his body, we are told that Jesus was perturbed, he was deeply moved…shaken.

As we look upon Patrick’s body, as we stood by his deathbed and as we gather to bury him today, we shake with emotion and we cry.  Those tears come easier for Irishmen, be they from Tuam or Everett or Cork.  But those tears and that quaking of the heart are good…for they are the only fitting memorial for the bonds of love which God has forged among the sons and daughters and friends of Patrick. 

And so we weep.  But we do not weep like those who have no hope.  For we have received  the faith of our fathers, the faith that all who have died with the Lord in Baptism will rise with him on the last day and that he who eats his Body and drinks his Blood will never die at all.  

It is the faith which comes to us from the Apostles, the faith passed on to Patrick by his mother and father when Mark and Marguerite carried their little baby to Our Lady of Grace Church in Chelsea, where the priest poured water over his head, baptizing him in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.   

God so loved Patrick that he joined him to himself in the the waters of Baptism, anointed him with the oil of salvation, and nourished him with the bread of those who will never really die.  The same God who day by day and year by year, revealed himself to Patrick, taught him to love, to confess and to seek to live in the model of her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The God who led Patrick and Edwina down the aisle of Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn and who heard them promise before that altar to remain faithful to one another and to God: a promise they lived together for forty-one years.  And from that faithfulness, God brought forth Michael, Christine and Mark as a concrete sign of the willingness of Patrick and Edwina to cling to faithful love in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death.

And they knew good times and bad.  But it didn’t matter how cold it got or how tired he was or how much he felt the burden of his age, Patrick never stopping going to work, or driving Edwina to the doctors, or even bringing Michael back from Notre Dame. And they knew sickness, first with Edwina taking care of Patrick and then Patrick taking care of Edwina as best he was able, until death did them part.

In fact, on the day they were married, Patrick and Edwina knelt before the altar as Father Coughlin, extending his hands over them, blessed them with a quotation from Psalm 128: videas filios filiorum tuorum: May you live to see your children’s children.  And so faithful was God’s love for then that they lived to know and to love their grandchildren.

So just imagine, what it will be like, when Patrick approaches the throne of God, when, having passed through that door that separates this world from the next, Edwina runs out to meet him and he, newly invigorated by eternal glory, runs out to meet her and each one of us whensoever God chooses to call us home to himself.

For, in the end, this day is not so much about Patrick, whom we loved, or Edwina, or even we who mourn.  This day is about God and his faithful love for your dad and your friend, this good man.

And its about the debt we owe to this good man…a debt of prayer.  For we believe that by our prayers God can forgive whatever sins Patrick may have committed.  And so we owe a debt, to pray for Patrick over and over again, especially at Mass, begging the Lord who offers himself for us on that altar, to forgive his child and lead him home to perfect peace.

That’s what we ask for Patrick.  But what of us?

Remember how many gifts Patrick gave you throughout the years?  Well today he gives you the greatest gift of all.  For today he reminds each one of us of the journey we’re on.  It starts in the arms of our parents…it starts at the font of blessed water where we were first joined to Christ and to his cross.  And then it takes all kinds of twists and turns, sometimes bringing us closer to God and sometimes leading us away from him.

But today Patricks reminds us where that journey ends.  It ends in the same place it began: before Christ, who will judge each one of us on the last day.  Christ, who calls us to turn away from selfishness and sin, and cling to faithful love.  Christ, who urges us to forgive, even as we ask to be forgiven.  Christ, who laid down his life for the world, and asks us to do the same.  Christ, who loved us faithfully and then commanded: love one another as I have loved you.

For the greatest memorial to Patrick will not be the finest monument in cemetery.  It will not even be the wonderful stories you will tell or even the moments you will recall his wise and faithful words.  No, the greatest memorial to Patrick, will be the life of faithful love which you are invited to live with the Son of God and his Church, that some day you might dwell in death you might know eternal life and rest as a child of God in the loving arms of Christ Jesus, your Lord.