Monday, July 09, 2007

Monday word, 09 Jul 2007

Funeral, Jeffrey W. Pederson (09Jul2007) Eccl 3.1-11; Ps23; 2Co4. 14-5.1; Jn14. 1-6
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.

Unnumbered Address

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Diane, at the passing of “the love [your] life”; to you, Heather, at the passing of your “amazing father,” who was your “really patient, really forgiving” “best friend”; and to you, Jessica, for whom words fail you at the loss of your Dad as he was with you in this life.

Your brother- and sister-parishioners and I grieve, too, because Jeff only recently joined us at the Lord’s table, receiving communion for the first time. It is difficult to see Eucharistic life cut short. That’s especially true for Jeff because he searched for God long before he celebrated his first communion. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen you; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing that Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in Jeff’s life and in you as well./1/

Heather and Jessica I want to address you first. Each of your life-journeys will be difficult without your Dad in your life as he once was. It will take time and be different for each of you. Nevertheless, your Dad always wanted what was best for you, “starting,” as your Mom recalled when we four were together last week, “with [your feet], with shoes.” I knew your Dad enough to understand that he knew that anyone’s life-journey is more than the body, as important and sacred as bodies are. Your Dad’s interest in and love for you desired you to be able to negotiate the twists and turns, ups and downs with which life challenges our hearts and our spirits as well as our physical selves.

Diane, you and I were together with Jeff from the first time I met Jeff in Hillcrest Hospital last summer. I knew well before you informed me that Jeff was your great support. Jeff and his companionship with you helped you negotiate life. Jeff’s strength and Jeff’s wisdom shaped you to be his strength and his wisdom through his long illness and in these final months with the agonizing decisions they demanded.

Now, as Ecclesiastes reminded us, the “time to die” sharply alerts us to the fact that it, too, has it’s time. However, what is timeless never dies. What is timeless is of God. Your spouse’s strength and wisdom will abide through you, Diane. His patient, forgiving, deeply concerned and big hearted ways will live through you, Jessica and Heather.

Jesus reminded us that his Father’s presence is like a mansion with many rooms, as many as needed for the number of people who desire to live in their presence. Loving, not labeling, and sincerity of heart, not suspicious envy of others, shape that desire to live in their presence now and always.

Your husband and father has known the address of their mansion. It is the Golden Rule: treat others as you would have others treat you. Living by the Golden Rule gave Jeff confidence to laugh at what was humorous; to cry at what was unjust and harmful to people; and to care for his family, his friends, neighbors, colleagues and to be willing to give and do for others.

People live the Golden Rule lovingly. If any of us merely observe it or observe it glumly, then we keep from harming others, but we really do not give ourselves to life and to others. Not observing it but living the Golden Rule in friend-
ship with Jesus is know-
ing the address of the heavenly mansion Jesus assured waits for us.

Jeff’s refused to categorize people. That’s how he personalized living the Golden Rule. Jeff was free to consider each person because God refused to categorize Jeff. God’s patience with Jeff allowed Jeff to search and find God in Jesus in a reasoned way. Jeff tested faith with experience. Jesus reassured us that experience can affirm faith. Because Jeff gave himself to both faith and experience his inner self was being renewed day by day long before his outer self [began] wasting away.

On the night that we celebrated Viaticum, the sacrament for the dying, the Eucharist as food for the journey from this life, Jeff was agitated. I asked Jeff to try to put it and its cause into Jesus’ hands. Jeff whispered hoarsely, as
Diane recalls, “I’m trying.” He need try no more. Jeff, the good cook, now enjoys the heavenly banquet and prays for each of us to enjoy more deeply its foretaste and promise at this mass in his memory and in every mass as often as possible.
/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals, 27.

Wiki-images of the "Light-window" and the Dominican chant setting of Psalm 27.6b are used
under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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