07 April 2014

Homily for Grandma's Funeral - 7 April 2014

Homily for the Funeral Mass for Mildred Margaret Zehnle

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

May the Lord give you peace. We have come today to the altar of God to accompany Grandma on this her final journey and though we cannot now go with her to the end of her journey, we seek to go with her as far as we can. We will walk with her into “the valley of the shadow of death” so to entrust her into “the hand of God” (Psalm 23:4 Wisdom 3:1).

This hand into which we now entrust her formed man from the dust of the earth (cf. Genesis 2:7). It is the same hand that reached out to touch and heal the blind and the sick and that raised the dead (cf. Mark 8:23-25; Matthew 8:3; and Mark 5:41). It is the same hand that took bread and wine at the Last Supper to set a table before us (cf. Psalm 23:5). It is the same hand that was nailed to the Cross and was shown to the Apostle Thomas when he doubted the Resurrection of the Lord (cf. John 20:27).

Within this hand is contained all of the power of the cosmos together with “grace and mercy” (Wisdom 3:9). The Lord Jesus continually stretches his hand out towards us so that, just as he lifted Peter out of the swirling waters, so he might raise on the last day all those who grasped his hand and yielded themselves to his love (cf. Matthew 14:31).

This hand is the hand of the one true Shepherd who will lead those who hear and follow his voice through the dark valley. It is he

who knows even the path that passes through the valley of death; one who walks with me even on the path of final solitude, where no one can accompany me, guiding me through: he himself has walked this path, he has descended into the kingdom of death, he has conquered death, and he has returned to accompany us now and to give us the certainty that, together with him, we can find a way through. The realization that there is One who even in death accompanies me, and with his “rod and his staff comforts me”, so that “I fear no evil” (cf. Ps 23 [22]:4) — this was the new “hope” that arose over the life of believers.[1]

It is this hope that has brought us to together today as we pray that Grandma may now “dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days” (Psalm 23:6).

Throughout her life Grandma sought to take hold of this hand, sometimes feebly and sometimes with strength, so that she might not let go of the Lord’s hand. She knew, as Pope Francis recently reminded us that

the Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk [of grasping his hand]; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms. Now is the time to say to Jesus: “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace.”[2]

When we stand before the Lord, both throughout our lives and at life’s end, what other words are there that we can say to the Lord?

Today we, too, must take the Lord’s hand so that we might not be discouraged “as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen” (II Corinthians 4:18). If we take hold of his hand we will find our sorrow tempered with joy because “joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved.”[3]

Today, Grandma,

May you return to him
who formed you from the dust of the earth.

May holy Mary, the angels, and all the saints
come to meet you as you go forth from this life.

May Christ who was crucified for you
bring you freedom and peace.

May Christ who died for you
admit you into his garden of paradise.

May Christ, the true Shepherd,
acknowledge you as one of his flock.

May you see the Redeemer face to face,
and enjoy the vision of God for ever.


[1] Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, 6.
[2] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 3.
[3] Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, 6.

1 comment:

  1. Your homilies are quite amazing yet humbling. Wonderful words for your grandmother, and for the rest of us.