On behalf of the other priests and the rest of the parish, I’d like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of N.. Be assured of our prayers for you and for the repose of her soul. One of the great consolations of our Catholic faith is to know that N. and all our deceased loved ones can still benefit from our prayers. Our relationship with them continues in a very important way. I wear violet vestments today, the same color that we use during the penitential seasons of Lent and Advent, as a reminder that we are called to offer prayers, fasting, and penance on behalf of N., as an expression of love and gratitude to her and to God, so that any imperfections, any sin that still clings to her, would be wiped away and healed. During this past year, I’ve very frequently seen the name of N.’s sister in our bulletin, having Masses offered for the repose of her soul. What a great practice. There’s nothing more powerful than the perfect Sacrifice of Christ Himself, offered at each and every Mass. I hope that you’ll continue to pray for N. and have Masses offered for her in the weeks and months ahead.
One thing I definitely have in common with N. is her love for words. Now, I don’t play Scrabble very much, I’ve played a bit more Bananagrams, but I’ve always loved words, word puzzles, and languages. And I’ve always found it interesting that one of main titles or names that we use for Jesus is the Word of God, the Eternal Word that became Flesh, the One who gives visible expression and perfect revelation of the invisible God. In life, and at the end of our lives, its our relationship with this One Word of God that’s going to matter most. Whether we were materially rich or poor, successful or largely failures, our relationship with Christ will be the one thing that matters in the end. Jesus tells us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Jesus lays down His life for us on the Cross, so that we can live, no longer for ourselves but for Him.
One of the considerations in my own vocation to the priesthood, ever since I was a kid (and most of you probably still think I look like a kid), but for a long time I kind of surveyed different things I could do. Did I just want to get a good job to make money, to buy stuff, and live a comfortable life? Was that the best I could hope for? The most that the world had to offer me? Or could I work for something else, something greater? Not just for food that passes away but for the Food that lasts to eternal life? Not just for words that could ring in people’s ears for a time, but for the Eternal Word that could live in their hearts forever?
A lot of people today tend to think and talk about heaven as if it is just some generic form of happiness, some comfortable country club in the sky, but it’s not. Heaven is seeing God Himself face to face. And there’s nothing that could ever be boring about that. There’s nothing more beautiful, more infinitely and inexhaustibly interesting than God Himself. That’s what heaven is. There isn’t a separate heaven for people who just aren’t really into all that God stuff. Now the question for us, and for every human person, the question of every human life, is how are we preparing ourselves today and every day of our lives for where we want to be spending eternity? I’m convinced that God will give us what we truly desire at the end of our lives. He will give drink to the thirsty. But do we thirst for Him? If we can’t bother to pray every day, to talk with God and try to listen to Him, if we don’t give much effort to going to church on Sundays, to witness the one perfect Sacrifice of Christ in the Mass, if we don’t bother to spend much time with God during this life, what makes us think that we’ll actually desire to spend an eternity with God at the end of our lives?
Life is short. 88 years is short, in view of eternity. We thank God for the life and blessings that He gave to N., for her great smile and kindness that she shared with so many. We continue to pray that she’ll soon be enjoying the fullness of God’s heavenly kingdom. And we pray that God gives each of us the grace to use well the time entrusted to us. That God would help us all to desire more than just the passing things that the world offers us. We pray that even today, we can start to live for eternity.