In The End It’s All A Big Deal
See video of this funeral
Homily starts at 34:55
So, life truly is just a series of instances that impact our lives. And some of them are good – some of them not so good. Today is one of those not so good. But its something that we have to go through because this is as much a part of life as the three of you children being born to your mom and dad. And so this is what fills our lives. This is what makes it full. And I think, by any measure, when I look around here, in a time of pandemic, and see this many people showing up to pay honor to Jeff. What a blessing he must have been in your lives.
He lived a full life. He grew up as an athlete, he was able to continue playing his favorite sport – football – all the way into college. Eventually, he met a girl. And, he fell in love with her. Honestly, for her it didn’t start out that hot. She’s got a diary entry – not that I’ve read it – but it says she went on a blind date with a guy. No big deal. So, everything affects us in a different way because today, if I were to ask you about that guy, it would be a big deal.
Eventually, they had three wonderful children – Ashlynn, Julie and Josh. And hew as always a part of their lives. He was a hared worker. He was a coach. He did everything that he could to be as involved as possible with his family. As they began to grow, and grow out of things that he could coach or that he could attend, and stuff like that, he took up hunting, and fishing. You know, hunters, they’ll go off to a camp and they’ll be gone for like 3 or 4 days. Nobody gets to see them except for the guys who are there hunting with them. Not Jeff. Jeff would go off, even if it was an hour and a half or two hours away, he came home that evening to be with his family. That is a very special dad! That is a very special husband!
And so, today, we are in one of these places where we would really want some answers. Why, Jeff? Why not later? Why can’t he be here for what’s going to be happening in the future? The lives of these three children. You think because he is not here physically, that he is not here. But he truly is here. He is going to be here in everything that you guys do. Because in each of you three, your dad is there. There are going to be things that your mom will see you do and she’ll burst out in tears because it is your dad. And she’s going to know.
We have a God who grants our needs. He knows what we need. But He doesn’t always give us what we want. And that’s a good thing, honestly, because I, myself, want a whole lot of stuff. Not that it would help me, in any way. Not that it would make me a better person. But I want things. But God doesn’t give me what I want. He does give me what I need.
And so those questions about “why?” – you’re going to get them answered. Its just probably not going to be here. But the day is coming. That’s the reason that the first reading that Ashlynn read – you did such a beautiful job. It’s hard – believe me, I know – it’s hard to do a reading at your parent’s funeral. But you did an amazing job. And the thing is that that particular reading talks about we have a tendency to be like the old Jewish people before Jesus. Because everybody thought that if you died early, it was because you were being punished. If you were blind, someone was being punished – someone did something wrong.
But when Jesus came, and this reading that we read today, 400 years before Jesus was even born, but he is already talking about what happens after Jesus is here. Pretty amazing! He explains that he’s not being punished. But he’s lived such a good life. He did what God wanted of him. And so God decided, at that time, let’s bring him home. Because he had formed you three. You’re ready to stand on your own.
It’s going to be hard. I’m not going to lie. But, you’ve got the Church, you’ve got your family. Look around you right now. You’ve got all these people who are more than willing to step in and hear you. And that’s the thing that we have to understand, as friends and support is that we don’t need to be talking. We need to be listening. They need to have a chance to be heard.
I told Ashlynn the other day, and I hope you told your brother and sister, that she (Jeff’s wife and their mother) needs to be loved on. Just all the time. Let her know how special she is because it is going to be a difficult time now. You were married for a while. But really and truly, if you walk away from here with nothing else, that gospel from John today, when it starts out He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Listening to the stories of Jeff the other day when we were talking, I can here him right now telling you guys, “Don’t worry. It’s okay. I got this!”
And then He says, “You have faith in God. You’ve never even seen God. Why not have faith in me, also.” Have faith in your husband, your dad. That he did what was right. That he prepared you for this moment. Everything moving forward is you completing his story. Make is a beautiful story. Jesus says, “Have faith in me also.”
And then this beautiful thing He says, “In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places”. Which means that all of us here get to go to Heaven. I’m not saying all of us will choose to go to Heaven. But all of us get to – He has a place for all of us. Then He says, “If there weren’t, would I have told you I am going to prepare a place for you?”
This guy, he had his own air conditioning company, his own appliances and everything else. He was always fixing things for people. He had such a servant’s heart. He’s saying, “Trust me. I haven’t gone, I’ve gone ahead. I’m preparing a place for you.” Which, again, harkens back to that first reading. Because that’s what we hold on to – the fact that we’re going to get to see him again.
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am, you may also be.” What a beautiful promise! So the question is do you trust him? Jesus said it to His apostles. We know that if your Dad were here, he would be telling you the exact same thing. And He says, “Where I’m going, you know the way”.
Thank God for St Thomas. You know he gets beat up in the scriptures because he’s “Doubting Thomas”. “I’m going to have to put my finger in the holes in his hand, I’m going to have to stick my hand into the hole in his side”. But if it weren’t for St Thomas, who would know about a lot of this stuff that we know about Jesus? Because Jesus almost uses St Thomas as a, not necessarily a foil, but as a way of being able to clarify things that He said. St Thomas goes, “Hey, wait a minute. I didn’t know you were going any place. How am I supposed to know the way?” Jesus tells him, “I am the way. If you live your life as I’ve taught you as I’ve been here with you, as I’ve led you, I’ve modeled for you. You take care of the poor, you take care of the hungry, you take care of the sick. That’s part of the formula.
Jesus didn’t deny who he was even to the point they nailed Him to a cross. It’s so easy right now to try to be accepted by the cliques and everything else, that you change who you are to be accepted. Don’t do that. God made you beautiful just the way you are. You be who you are. You let them change. Change them into what you are – what your Dad formed you to be.
And I am the Life. Do you know that, I think at last count there are 7 billionaires in Houston? Billion – that’s like a lot of money. And yet, if I were to take you and put you in their life, I would be willing to bet you that the vast majority of them, although they appear to be happy, they’re not. They can buy anything they want, any time they want, and they do. Why? Because they’re covering for that big hole whenever you take God out of the middle and set Him off to the side. There’s a hole that cannot be filled by anything. Jeff didn’t take God out of the middle. Even though he planned at some time to become Catholic, you can put stuff off, and sometimes it just doesn’t work out timewise. Cancer is a horrible thing. Its a terrible, terrible disease. But cancer is part of our life. And we have to be prepared for it. We have to prepare to lose some very, very important people. – people who change lives.
Jesus was taken down from that cross and He appeared, in the view of the people, to be dead. So they took Him and they laid Him in a tomb. The reason we are here today is because of what happened 3 days later. When Jesus says, “No one comes to the Father except through me”, it doesn’t mean that we had to be Christians. They weren’t even any Christians then. It means that when He died, He died for every sin that had ever been committed, and every sin that will ever be committed. And then, after laying in that tomb for 3 days, He comes out. He’s victorious over death. That’s the only thing that can keep us from seeing Jeff again.
So that’s what we take forward from today. Jesus said it himself, and so we celebrate. We celebrate, even as hard as it is, even though we want him to still be here, he left you ready. You don’t NEED him to be here because he raised you to be fine, fine young people.
Michelle, is it no big deal?