Monday, November 9, 2009
Image by Franciscancards
There are many scripture texts from which the family and friends of the deceased may choose when selecting the texts to be read at a funeral Mass. The one which is the shortest of them all (only one verse) is one of my own favorites, not because it's brief but because of the promise it embodies...
A reading from the book of Revelation
I heard a voice from heaven say,
"Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on."
"Yes," said the Spirit, "let them find rest from their labors,
for their works accompany them."
"For their works accompany them..."
I love to preach on this text at a funeral because the one we have gathered to pray for so often is a person of many good works. Not the kind of good works that merit headlines or trophies or ribbons but rather, the simple good works that pave a path to paradise: avoiding evil and seeking the good; fidelity to a spouse; patience in raising children; a forgiving heart; quiet acts of kindness; praying in good times and in bad; caring for neighbors' needs; persevering on cloudy days; favoring the vulnerable; taking one step at a time; rejoicing in small things...
When one considers the many "works" which will accompany our loved ones (and ourselves) to heaven's door, there is great reason to hope that the life promised us in baptism will, indeed, be ours. Not because our good works have earned or merited that life which is pure gift to us, but because the peace promised us had already begun to bear fruit in this life: the signs of eternal life are already present in the simple, faithful ways we serve God and our neighbor.
As the closing prayer at the cemetery committal reminds us:
God of holiness and power,
accept our prayers on behalf of your servant Patricia;
do not count her deeds against her
for in her heart she desired to do your will...
Not only our good works, but even our desire to do God's will, accompany our loved ones and will go with us to the threshold of eternity.
Indeed, our God is rich in mercy and abounding in kindness!
Posted by Austin Fleming at 12:01 PM