HOMILY: Courage to Face the Reality of Death/Hope in the Power of the Resurrection

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

All Souls | November 1/2, 2014

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the Sunday readings here. This homily focuses on the first reading and the second reading from Romans 6.

As an Oblate, I attend a lot of funerals.

And one thing I have always noticed is that for most people there is a particular part in the service when everything seems to hit them.

For some it is when Psalm 23 is sung

For others it is when they actually shut the casket for the final time.

For others it is when the song of farewell is sung and the casket is slowly rolled out of the Church.

And still for others, it is when the eulogy is given, memories are shared and final goodbyes said.

For me, the moment is always at the cemetery.  The final prayers are said and there is nothing left to do but say goodbye and slowly walk away.  Back to a life that will no longer have that person there.

To flip through pictures with.

To chat with on the phone

To share the big moments with . . . the wedding days and baptisms, the graduations and the summer vacations.

To give a hug to.

I think about those moments in the cemetery and I can’t help but resonate with the foolish ones in the Book of Wisdom.

For death does seem like an affliction.  A terrible loss that marks a definitive end.

No matter how hard we try to avoid it, death is part of our world.

Friendships die and careers die.

Dreams die and marriages die

Our loved ones die.

And yes, eventually we will die.

In many ways, today’s feast is a frank reminder of this fact of life that too often we try to deny or postpone or ignore.

But if today’s feast were to simply end by focusing on death, then it would not be a feast at all.

Our readings from today all proclaim a message of hope.

A hope that is not rooted in some false naiveté that denies reality.

But a hope rooted in a person, Jesus Christ.

For we believe that Jesus experienced the power of death.

He experienced the death of friendship through betrayal and abandonment

He experienced the death of his hopes for the conversion of Jerusalem, the repentance of his people.

He experienced the death of his beloved cousin John the Baptist.

And ultimately, he would experience his own excruciating death on the cross.

But unlike every person who had come before him, the power of death was not granted the final word .

Jesus was resurrected from the dead, transforming death into new life.

And in so doing, he forever robbed death of his power.

Today’s feast holds these two realities in balance, my friends.

We know that death is real.  Jesus truly experienced death and knew what it meant to lose, to fail and to grieve.

But so is the power of resurrection.

The power of God that brings new life out of death.

That brings new beginnings from the ashes of our careers, our marriages, our broken relationships.

That brings us hope that our loved ones are at home with God, united with each other and united with us through the mystery of our bonds as members of the body of Christ and beloved children of God.

That gives us courage to face our own death, confident that there will be another chapter in our lives.  That death will never have the final word for us.

Let us live as people of hope, my friends, confident in the promise of resurrection.

May God be Praised.

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