Monday, December 10, 2007

Monday word, 10 Dec 2007

Funeral, Jeanne Tapleshay (10 Dec 2007) Rev 14.13; Ps 27 Jn 6. 37-40
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Shaped by the Gospel

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Debra, at the passing of your Aunt Jeanne.

Your spouse and son grieve, too. Grief is slippery and elusive. 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 your aunt’s life and in you as well./1/

My remarks are a reshaping of Debra’s introduction of her aunt to me. I may have met her when I said mass at Judson a couple times, but I am unsure and dependent on Debra’s description. My remarks take Debra’s portrait together with the scriptural words we heard.

The words from Revelation capture well the purpose of the last book of the bible. Revelation sought to comfort people who risked being banished, their property confiscated and even death for their faith. That is most difficult for us to appreciate because we are free to practice faith, free to cultivate a relationship with our Messiah Jesus.

Perhaps the elderly need comfort that they are not able to articulate. Indeed I know that is so as I am with my mother whose Alzheimer’s is progressing into it’s next phase. Perhaps we who are close to the elderly intuit that and get frustrated that no matter how much we do, we are really helpless. Our helplessness is one reason why grief is so slippery. Jesus’ Spirit reassures you that Jeanne rests now after a long and full life.

In her stronger days Jeanne was also blessed. She was an executive assistant to decision maker at General Electric. I imagine more men than women held positions like that in Jeanne’s heyday. Blessing was hers because work was not everything. God blessed Jeanne with an artist’s talents, and Jeanne welcomed them and put them to use. She found she excelled at needlepoint, knitting and crocheting.

I’ve seen my grandmothers, my aunt and my niece exercise those talents and not get lost in ways I would or fumble as I would. While we may consider those works talents, I think they are windows on God, who fashioned us and who never loses what God fashions, as Jesus remarked in the gospel. I shall not lose anything [my Father] gave me, but I should raise it on the last day.

Not to be lost can be put positively this way: Jesus will always hold us close. No matter how unworthy we may feel, Jesus always desires to accompany us and to welcome us to share his life completely one day. Hold on to that conviction, especially when slippery and elusive grief seeks to overwhelm you or even to begin to second-guess all you have done and been to Jeanne.
/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals 27.

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