The Christian Meaning
of a Funeral -Homily September 21, 2014
for a Christian, is the gateway to eternal life in Christ. As St. Paul reminds
us, even though we mourn, we are given hope and comfort in the resurrection of
Jesus Christ from the dead. (Cf. 1 Thessalonians
4: 13–17.) The pastoral ministry of the Church and its funeral rites are
directed to placing the event of death in the context of our Christian faith.”
Let me share with you some passages of the Order of Christian Funerals (OCF),
by which the Church sets down directives for the celebration of funerals.
1. We believe that
the life of our soul does not finish with death: “At the death of a
Christian, whose life and faith was begun in the waters of baptism and
strengthened at the eucharistic table, the Church intercedes on behalf of the
deceased because of its confident belief that death is not the end nor does it
break the bonds forged in life.”
spiritual life does not end with death. There is an indication of this. Tell
me: does love depend on the physical strength of a person? Do old people love
less because they are old? Love grows with time, it does not diminish with age.
The love we have for our brothers and sisters does not depend on our body. Our
capacity for love transcends our body, goes beyond our physical strength. This
is an indication that our soul does not depend on the body, and so our soul
lives even when the body may die. Remember the energy of John Paul II in his
last days, or the power of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
yourself may have seen it in your relatives or friends before they pass away.
For me it is difficult to explain, but I have felt it many times in those
people I have had the opportunity to accompany in their illness: sometimes it
seems that they die when they want: they hold on until their last child arrives
from afar. Sometimes it amazes me their patience, or how they hold complaints
in order to make it easier for their family. I still remember one who, in his
bed of pain at the hospital, tried to sing in front of me: he was almost in
agony, in his last days… Another person died one minute after I finished his
last rites. They had been waiting for me for almost an hour: when I arrived, he
clearly noticed my presence, and ten minutes after he passed away.
I mean to say is that there is in ourselves something that cannot be explained
simply by physical causes. There is a power that seems to grow when every other
power in our body is shutting down. It is an indication of our soul, of our
spirit, of that part of ourselves that cannot die.
2. Characteristics of
a Christian Funeral
funeral liturgy is a consolation, because it reminds us of the future
resurrection and allows us to participate at the Eucharist: “The Church also
ministers to the sorrowing and consoles them in the funeral rites with the
comforting word of God and the sacrament of the Eucharist.”
thanks to God for life: “Christians celebrate the funeral rites to offer
worship, praise, and thanksgiving to God for the gift of a life that has been
returned to God, the author of life and the hope of the just.”
for the eternal rest of our beloved ones: “The Church through its funeral
rites commends the dead to God’s mercy and pleads for the forgiveness of their
sins.” In this, we act according to the Scriptures, as we read in the book of
Maccabees: “[Judas] then took up a collection among all his soldiers… which he
sent to Jerusalem to provide for an expiatory sacrifice. Thus he made atonement
for the dead that they might be freed from this sin” (2Mac 12:43-45)
at the funeral we remember that we are in amystical union with those of our
brothers and sisters who have passed away: “At the funeral rites, especially at
the celebration of the eucharistic sacrifice, the Christian community expresses
the union of the Church on earth with the Church in heaven in the one great
communion of saints. Although separated from those who remain, nevertheless the
dead are still at one with the community of believers on earth and benefit from
their prayers and intercession.”
us pray for our brothers and sisters who have passed away. Let us remember that
they are with us in spirit, that we can still do something for them, and they
can still love us and they remember us also in their own prayers.–Fr. Andrew
thanks, for the Lord is good”(Psalm
118). The Lord appears to Paul, who was his persecutor, and makes of him an
apostle (cf. 1 Co 15, 8-11). The Lord
allows a sinner woman to touch him, and grants her forgiveness for many sins (Luke 7:36-50). The Lord is good, the
Lord is merciful, the Lord gives more than we are ready to expect.
Lord has shown his love to us in three ways. First, he called us to life.
Second, he called us to be Christians. Third, to a particular vocation.We could
not have asked to be born, but God thought that it would be good to have you on
earth, so he could love you. We didn’t ask to be baptized, but God wanted you
to be his own child. And before you could ask for forgiveness, he died for you
on the Cross, and remained with open arms, to show you that he will always be
ready to forgive you. He is ready to forgive much more than we would expect.
his mercy, finally, he called you to a particular vocation.A vocation to share with
other people the love you receive from him. With a human family, or with his
own family, the whole Church. The Lord knew that it was not good for you to be
alone, so he prepared for you a family, the most beautiful family you could
ever think of.
me that family today is St. Michael’s Church, my parish. The Lord gives always
more than we are ready to expect. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, my family.-Fr. Andrew
PRO-LIFE NOVENA FOR UNBORN
September 29, 30 & October 1, 2, 3, 4, 5,6, & 7, 2014
To participate in this Novena, please pick up a copy at the back of the
Church or Parish Office for instructions.