Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday word, 30 May 2008

Anthony C. Amaddio funeral (30 May 2008) Ws 3. 1-9; Ps ; Rm 14.7-9,10b-12; Jn 11. 17-27
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
“How Are You Doing?”

On behalf of Gesu Parish and personally, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Mildred, at the passing of your dear spouse; to you, their children, Lynn, Mark, Gregory, Anthony, Teresa, Janet and Michelle at the passing of your father. Your children and theirs grieve, too. I want all of you grand-children and great- grandchildren to remember how much your Papa loved you. It will be hard not to have him in your lives as you did; however, Papa will continue to be with you in different and new ways, which each of you will discover.

The Catholic church bids farewell to a faithful and devoted friend of many years. I offer a few words to console and to strengthen each of you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing that Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in the life of Tony and in you as well./1/

I preface my remarks with a thank-you to you Mildred and to your beloved spouse of 62 years. Not long after my arrival at Gesu, the three of us stood where Tony’s coffin stands, and you renewed your vows to celebrate 60 years of marriage. That moment I became aware of something I had noticed when I saw you on another occasion. The loving way you were with each other mirrored the way my parents were with each other. As Tony and Michelle told me earlier this week, “[Mom and Dad] were inseparable.” My parents so enjoyed their 60 years of married life that they couldn’t imagine not being one.

Plus, Tony reminded me of my Dad because they both carried themselves with a quiet manner, a quiet which dignified them and possessing smiles which brightened their dignity.

That is far more than coincidence, Mildred. It’s a grace, and it allows me better to appreciate your loss because I have a son’s share in my Mom’s loss of her beloved husband. That same grace also helps me share more in your loss, you sons and daughters of Tony. It’s a grace that also gives me new vision of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and to see Tony in them.

Tony “quietly got things done.” That’s the image of Jesus the gospels convey: focused with people, not without a sense of humor nor a passionate concern for relatives, friends, disciples and especially the poor. Tony intersected with Jesus those ways.

That kind of focused care may well have appeared foolish to those whose faith-vision was clouded. We know that was one way Tony shone in the world. He shall shine even more brightly in the presence of our risen Messiah.

The Book of Wisdom is not our only reminder of how Tony practiced his faith. St. Paul chimed in with words you, Tony’s family and friends, will always hear with clearer, richer meaning: None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself. Hearing those words may evoke Jesus as an ideal person to imitate. The risk of viewing Jesus as an ideal person is losing a felt knowledge of Jesus as a real person. Tony’s family, especially, know and will remember a spouse, father, grandpa and great-grandad who had all of them and others in his heart. As Tony put it when you thought he was only napping, “I’m just keeping track of everbody.” Tony did not live for himself. Beyond his family Tony was interested in how others were doing.

The Fourth Gospel also confirms that Tony and Jesus intersected in life. The Fourth Gospel portrays a very human Jesus, who hungers, thirsts, conversed with real people, enjoyed close friendships, and longed for his followers to respond to his invitation--to name some human qualities.

The opening of the selection from this gospel invites us to notice another human quality Jesus had in spades. When Jesus arrived in Bethany he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days...and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them about their brother. You and I may know those words so well that we may not feel the stormy bustle they describe. Divine, yes, and also fully human, Jesus arrived in Bethany like the eye in a storm. He consoled Martha, and he encouraged her to know him for whom he truly is: the resurrection and the life.

Again, Tony’s family and friends, who visited Grand River cottage, saw him in the midst of such stormy bustle--“lots of chaos ensuing” is how Tony, Jr. expressed it moments ago. Tony’s children and grandchildren saw the other chaos, the chaos of care in which Tony provided for his father, his Aunt and Mildred’s father, in Tony and Mildred’s home. That is an invaluable lesson in love which will abide with you always.

The bond which Jesus forged between you and your spouse, father, grandpa, and friend, does not unravel with death. We are called to nurture it in a new way, until Jesus returns to reunite us with Tony forever. The way to nurture it is the way you will keep Tony alive in a different, though very real way: to cultivate serenity; to focus on one another and all in need of care more than on yourselves. I’m certain that is how Tony sought to bind you to Jesus and to help your faith grow more alive, better to “understand truth” and “abide with [Jesus and all people] in love.”/2/

/1/ Cf. Order of Christian Funerals 27.
/2/ Order of Christian Funerals, 398.30: prayer for A Parent.
Wiki-image of an icon of the Resurrection is in the public domain.

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