The Mystery of Death - Homily September 14, 2014
the Church wants us to reflect on the mystery of our redemption, the mystery of
the love of God, the mystery of his death on a Cross. Jesus suffered death for
our salvation. Jesus won heaven for us at the price of his blood.
gives me the opportunity to reflect on the meaning of death for us Christians.
It is a while that I wanted to talk about this. When the moment of death comes,
it is too late to reflect. But my intention today is to help us understand the
mystery of death with regards to the celebration of a Christian funeral. What
does a funeral mean? How do we Christians face death? Is it a celebration? Is
it a moment of sorrow? Why do we pray?I will use for my reflections a beautiful
document of the diocese of Pembroke on Christian funerals.
the very difficult time of a loved one’s death, the Church joins with those who
mourn in their sorrow and prayers for the deceased.” It is interesting to note
that it is assumed that death is a moment of sorrow. Of course we have
consolation and joy because of the resurrection, but that consolation is not
about something present. The resurrection is our hope, but now we have a
problem, something is missing, someone is missing. It is important to recognize
that and to grieve over death. When people try to make of a funeral a
celebration, there is the risk that we have not the opportunity to grieve. We
hide our sorrow, hold our tears, and do not let nature express itself
naturally. This is not good. Instead, to grieve over death is something human, something
natural, something good, and it produces good fruits. Jesus himself wept over
the death of his friend Lazarus (cf. John
of all, to grieve over death releases our sadness. It also expresses our love:
we cry because we miss someone (cf. John
11:36). To grieve expresses that we understand what happened: it expresses
wisdom. We understand that it is not the same to die than to live, that if life
is serious sometimes, death is even more serious.
to grieve over death leads us to pray for our loved ones. When we say: “may
they rest in peace,” we are doing for them the only thing we can do: to pray.
We believe that our sufferings during life help us to purify our sins, but it
may happen that our purification is not yet complete when we die. In that case,
we have still to undergo a certain kind of purification that we Catholics call
purgatory. When we pray for the death, when we say “May they rest in peace,” we
help them in that purification, we make it easier for them.
to grieve over death help us to remember that life is short, and we have to be
ready. It makes us think that our separation is only for a while, until we all
meet in heaven again. To grieve over death reawakes in us the thought of
eternity; it is a reminder that there is a heaven we have to conquer with our
good works. It makes us remember that there is a Father in Heaven waiting for
is no more the most terrible thing for a Christian, because our God went to
death and came back again, he rose from the death. He rose from the death not
only to show us his power, but “as the first fruitsof those who have fallen
asleep” (1Co 15:20). He rose from the
death to show that death will have an end also for ourselves, and life will be
eternal. His death, and our death now, is just the way to eternal life. May we
be always ready for our final encounter with our Lord. May we always live for
the one who died for our sins. May the Holy Virgin Mary intercede for us, so
that one day we may say to Jesus: “You died for me, I have lived for you. Let
me live with you forever.”
operate the “I-talk”
On Gossip, Part II
Sunday I spoke about gossiping, and the Gospel of today invites me to continue
on the same topic. Jesus says, “If your brother sins against you go and point
out the fault when the two of you are alone.”
doesn’t say that the first thing we have to do when we have been offended is to
post it on Facebook, to go to the Newspaper, or to say it to all our friends
and relations.When he says: “Tell it to the Church,” it is because this is the
only option left to obtain the correction of our brother or sister.
we pay attention, what Jesus wants is the correction of your brother. The only
reason to point out the fault to your brother or sister is your love for that
person. It is that you yourself want his or her correction. The reason you
speak is because you love that person, not because you are hurt and you want to
release you anger. Out of anger, we only hurt and want revenge. Out of love, we
only heal and produce peace.
is true, sometimes corrections can be as difficult as a surgery, you want to
take out what is wrong, but you need to do it with so much care, in order not
to produce a worse wound and ruin everything. The hand of a surgeon needs to be
perfectly precise. If he is upset and trembling, he will not risk the cut. That
is what happens when you correct in anger… If we are angry, it is better to
delay the correction.
want to tell you something I heard when I was in the seminary, and I believe it
comes from St. Alphonsus. Gossiping kills three people: the person whom it is
talked about, the person who listens, and the very person who speaks.
kill the person we are talking about, when we gossip, because we destroy his or
her reputation in the eyes of other people. It may arrive to the point in which
the other person cannot get a job for what we have said, or may be abhorrentto
those who listen: “He did that? I would never have my kids approach him. It’s
better to avoid him.” It may also be that gossiping does not kill, but it
always hurts. Reputation is like a porcelain cup: once you have broken it, it
is almost impossible to repair it as it was before.
second person that is killed is the one who listens. You need at least two to
gossip. When we gossip, we make the other person sin (of course, if the other
listens to me willingly and with bad intention). If what I am saying is
serious, both myself and the other person may commit a mortal sin. Before
speaking ill of anyone, I have to think that by doing so I am not only
committing a sin, I also make my brother or sister who listens commit a sin.
third person that is killed is the one who speaks, because of the sin he or she
has committed. Of course, there is always resurrection and forgiveness, but in
this case it requires an extra thing: the one who has gossiped needs to repair
the damage of his or her neighbour. The fame and reputation I have stolen, I
have to give back. If I have spoken ill, I have to speak well of that person.
is not only saying lies or exaggerations, one can also gossip saying something
that is true. When I reveal a true sin of my brother without necessity, or to
the wrong person, or out of anger, etc., I am not doing what the Lord said.
apostle James says that the one who domains his or her tongue is perfect (cf. James 3:2). How do we obtain this
control of our tongue? Practical suggestions: try always to speak well of
people, especially of those you have sometime spoken ill. If you cannot say
something good about someone, don’t say anything. When another person says
something bad about your neighbour, minimize it, change conversation, say
something good, makea joke.
best way is, when you speak, think that you are speaking about your son;when
you listen, think that they are speaking about your daughter. We forgive
everything to our children, we cannot even believe that they are wrong even if
they are, and if we hear something bad about them, we will always minimize it.
Because we love them. That is the way to speak. We have to see our children,
more than that, we have to see Jesus in our neighbour. “Whatsoever you do to
the least of my brothers that you do unto me.”
all our words be kind, and may the Lord help us to see Jesus in every brother
and every sister. May his words be kind to us on the Judgment day.–Fr. Andrew