Edward A. Kilroy Jr. funeral (18 Mar 2010)
Wis 3. 1-6,9; Ps 23; Rv 21. 1-5a, 6b-7; Mt 5. 1-12
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
I also extend our prayers and sympathy to your children. It is hard for you, too, to let go of your Poppa. Your parents will help you to do that, hard as it is. Let them know when you need help to let go of Poppa. You will continue to grow with many memories of your Poppa, who loved you very much.
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 Edward A. Kilroy Jr.1
I’m grateful to Bill for your words of remembrance. Your words help us connect your father with the mystery of Jesus’ dying and rising we celebrate. I want to reflect briefly with you on the scriptures Edward’s family chose for his funeral mass.
You chose the readings in particular because of the comfort they afford you and can afford the friends of your husband and father. In addition to comfort so needed now, the Book of Wisdom expressed one of God’s desires: Those who trust in [God] shall understand truth, and the faithful shall abide with [God] in love.
To understand in scripture means more than assent or head-knowledge. To understand in scripture means to live in ways, which harmonize with God’s life. For us Catholics to understand, to believe always spills over into the ways we live.
Ted knew that. Ted knew God’s generosity and was “generous of heart” in his manner of living. He was able to give more than tokens, he gave in ways, which helped others to live. As you put it, Angela, your husband “made things happen.” To make things happen in the lives of others and for their lives gave him pleasure. As you remember that remember that is how humans give God pleasure.
We are created in the divine image and likeness. That has nothing to do with appearance; rather, it has everything to do with our intentions to make our lives and each choice harmonize with God’s life and desires for all people.
Choosing to harmonize with God’s life—creative; saving; and inspiring—expresses faithful lives, which embody God’s desires for others. We call putting our faith into action love. Edward put his faith into action: he knew his vocation to you his family, to his friends and to people in need. His vocation is summarized by the gospel selection you chose. Faithful and practiced love embodies Jesus’ blessings. They are hard blessings because each beatitude challenges us to embrace what our limited, human understanding alone cannot.
By each beatitude Jesus announced the conditions for entering the kingdom he proclaimed. In the beatitudes members of the community of Matthew recognized themselves; I think Ted did, too. Being included in the kingdom was not a badge of honor for early disciples nor is it a badge of honor for contemporary disciples. Being included in the kingdom is for the sake of the world: that all people may enter and enjoy a relationship with Messiah Jesus. Not for us but for others also makes these hard blessings.
Your husband, father, grandfather and friend was very aware of that. He is a good example for us and for all, who will learn about him through you. Putting our faith into action, that is, living our Christian vocations as fully as we can embodies relationship. Putting our faith into action brings us into relationship with others. Putting our faith into action allows us to put a face on the mystery of Jesus united with his church. The church allows us and all people to have a felt knowledge that God’s dwelling is with the human race. This is why the church advocates for all people. In his way and with his generous heart, Ted participated in Jesus’ mission, which is the mission of the church.
“Be a giver not a taker,” was Ted’s motto, and it reflects clearly the mission of the church received from Jesus. “It is in giving that we receive,” anchor-words of St. Francis of Assisi, show how Ted’s motto in life has saintly roots.
Now our God receives Ted into divine life. That is a hard blessing for you. At the same time that is God’s pledge to you, me and all contemporary disciples of Jesus: we will enjoy divine life fully, each in turn. We will also be reunited with him and with all who have gone before us in faith. May your spouse, your father, your Poppa, your friend be your ninth beatitude, who inspires you to participate in Jesus’ mission; and to grow more generous of heart.
As you struggle to let go and return him to our Creator and Redeemer, remember that in the communion of saints you have another advocate to intercede for you so that you and I may come to see more clearly our vocation: to live in ways so that others will be more keenly aware and will experience that God in Jesus by their Spirit does make all things [and all people] new!
- Cf. Order of Christian Funerals, #27.