Delphine Bucchieri funeral (23 Jan 2010)
Sir 26. 1-4, 13-18; Ps 23; Rm 6. 3-4, 8-9; Mt 5. 1-12a
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Faith Is Practical
On behalf of Gesu Parish, I extend our prayers and heartfelt sympathy to you, Sam, at the passing of your dear spouse. As I mentioned to you yesterday, I cannot know how you feel, yet I know that 72 years with your beloved Delphine makes her absence very, very difficult to bear. No one, as you told me, can fix things and bring her back. Yet, all of us are here to help each other to be more courageous than grief is sharp. Your confidence in our risen Messiah will help you and your children, Stephen and Delphine to grieve well. Your grandchildren and their children grieve, too. You will help them experience Delphine’s presence in real and new ways. Enrika, I express my sympathy to you as well. You cared lovingly for Delphine, and so you know sad pain, too.
Joining all of you today the Catholic church and Gesu Parish bid farewell to one of theirs. I offer a few words to console and strengthen you in your grief; to help you appreciate God’s astounding compassion by noticing Jesus’ victorious dying and rising were present in Delphine Bucchieri.1
I’m grateful, Rick, for your words of remembrance. Your words help us connect your grandmother with the mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising we celebrate here. I want to reflect briefly with you on the scriptures chosen for Delphine’s funeral mass.
Sam, yesterday you emphasized to me something that I want to repeat. You told me that Delphine’s "highest pleasure" was loving you and your family. She practiced her love. Putting love into practice is our Christian life. Indeed, Jesus desires each of us to put our faith into practice and become the person he created each of us to be
Some people hear the word faith and equate faith with esoteric or religious behavior. Faith is a relationship with God and through God with others. It is practical; it shapes lives. The Book of Sirach described faith as relationships and their effects. The feature of faith-relationships is that people are blessed by God and that people are God’s blessings for others. A spouse is the choicest of blessings, as we heard.
Choicest blessings register in many ways: happiness, at peace, full of life, contentment, delight, many kisses and loving taps after them. Those blessings and the many more to which Delphine gave her personal stamp shaped your lives, forming you and helping you to be in the world as the individuals Jesus has created and redeemed.
Jesus gave voice to blessings that have become hallmarks of his disciples in every age. They, too, are practical. Poor in spirit is not poverty but a freedom to consider others as well as self. People who mourn not only receive comfort, we know how to comfort people in ways we could not had we not mourned before. Meekness is not being puffed up, and hunger and thirst for extending God’s justice here and now is a blessing that does things so more people may enjoy right relationship with God and with others. Mercy is not pity but compassion, feeling with others. Seeking to make peace is not smoothing out, or worse, ignoring differences, but moving beyond them. At times, others take offense when people practice the blessed life of faith, of relationship with God. People who remain connected with their blessings endure, and their enduring is more than an example, it’s another blessing!
Perhaps you can see, indeed have known Delphine, in the personal ways she embodied these blessing and extended them to you. How she considered you important; how she comforted you; how you, individually and all together, were the center of universe; how she shaped you to be in the world as the men and women and children you are; how her compassion for you blessed you to be compassionate in your ways and so be channels of Jesus’ blessing to one another and to the world.
For blessing we were joined with our Messiah Jesus in baptism. Baptism established our relationship of blessing with Jesus, who desires that we extend our blessings to the world. This blessed relationship begins at home. Parents nurture it. The Sacrament of Matrimony you, Sam, and Delphine enjoyed for 72 years strengthened you to extend your blessings to your children and to theirs. Indeed, our relationship with Jesus is a friendship. How we practice our friendship with Jesus at home shapes how we practice our friendship with Jesus beyond our homes: at school; at work; in our neighborhoods. This is most practical: Jesus is recognized in his friends.
Because of the many ways Delphine blessed you, you will always remember her. Through those blessings, her practical ways she embodied Jesus’ love for you, you will experience her presence in real and new ways. This won’t be imaginary but yet another blessing. You will not forget her. When Jesus returns in glory Jesus will reunite you and Delphine and all who have enjoyed his friendship and made him more present by how they lived their lives.
You have enjoyed Jesus blessing you through Delphine, your spouse, your mother, your grandmother, your relative, your friend. Cultivate the blessings you received through her. She prepared you well to bless others and now can intercede for you to grow in faith and to continue to practice it so others will have a felt knowledge that our faith is practical.
- Cf. Order of Christian Funerals, 27.