Today, we have come to prayerfully commend the souls of our family members and friends to the Author of life. Our finitude give wings to our hope in eternity, which is Heaven for us Christians. Difficult moments such as this raises questions of reality in our hearts, which in turn prompts us to seek answers which becomes the foundations that give us meaningful existence, purpose and fulfillment.
Moreover, we are going to move beyond the tears. We are going to move beyond our questions because the Holy Spirit is here to strengthen us, especially through the prayerful songs we sing. Music is an important part of the funeral or memorial, and many people find comfort during their darkest moments, as songs for the dead can often serve as a beacon of hope. Appropriate music is an excellent tribute to the deceased.
Beloved in Christ, it is easier to talk about the death of someone than to directly face the heat of it. Let me give you an instance. There was a beautiful lady who was crying angrily over the death of her beloved husband and she refused to eat food for four days. She complained to God saying, “O God, why are you so heartless. Why will you take my husband and make me a widow and my children fatherless. You would have taken my life in the place of my husband.” To cut the long story short, behold an angel of the Lord appeared to her saying, “O woman, the Lord has answered your prayers. You said that, it is better for God to take your life instead of your husband’s life. Now the hour has come for your life to be taken.” Immediately, the woman shouted, “For what! For what! Is that how you use to do? Can’t someone play with Jesus again? Is it every prayer that He must answer?” The woman may sound funny but that is just the reality. Nobody wants to die.
Beloved in Christ, the most important thing we need to focus on is that “the measure of life is not in its duration, but in its donation”, says Peter Marshall. When we think of our departed ones’ donations, contributions and investments, then we should be much thankful, especially when considering the love and devotion they invested in the family, the Church and the society. The nurturing of vocations and the impact of godliness they made in the lives of others. It is something worth emulating.
Finally, beloved in Christ, in every funeral we attend, we are reminded of ten (10) things: 1. We should avoid sudden death by taking good care of our health. 2. That death is real and it is inevitable (Rom. 5:12) 3. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23). 4. There is judgment after death, Heaven and hell are real (Heb. 9:27). 5. That everything is Vanity upon vanity (Eccles. 1:2,14). 6. The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God and no torment will ever touch them (Wis.3:1). 7. We are having a fore taste of how our own funeral will be. 8. Be generous to your neighbour who is still alive (Lk 16:19-31 The rich man and Lazarus). 9. It is our duty to pray for and bury the dead and to console the bereaved (2 Macc. 12:46; Matt. 14:12), and 10. We can grieve but not despair, because our hope is in Christ who is the resurrection and the life (Jn. 11:25).
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, our Redeemer, You willingly gave Yourself up to death so that all people might be saved and pass from death into a new life. Listen to our prayers at this Holy Mass; look with love on Your people who mourn and pray for their dead ones. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
(A SERMON GIVEN AT THE CATHOLIC MAJOR SEMINARY OF ALL SAINTS, UHIELE-EKPOMA, EDO STATE, ON FRIDAY 26/10/2018, 29TH WEEK IN ORDINARY TIME YEAR II, MASS FOR THE DEAD)
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