Sunday, May 17, 2015

Homily - Memorial Service for Kristi Bartz

Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
Romans 8:31b-35,37-39
Luke 24:13-35

When we heard the news last Saturday and at our Sunday prayer service at Archbishop Murphy, how many of us felt like the disciples on the road to Emmaus?   
Grief-stricken, in disbelief, suffering deep sadness?  
We were downcast and distraught, walking away from the experience with heavy hearts.
Our joy in knowing and loving Kristi was displaced with despair, our happiness to be in her presence was replaced with grief, bitterness and anger.
All the hopes we had about Kristi’s future life vanished in an instant.
Much like the hope the disciples had in their future life with their savior. All of their dreams of the one who would redeem Israel, a leader who be King, dashed by the crucifixion.
But like Christ rejoice. Kristi has been born to new life.
These words may ring hollow for some today, but I want to challenge us all to let the light of Christ shine on our darkness and help us to see a new reality.
I know it’s hard for many of us to understand God’s plan in all of this. Why would he take one so young, so promising, so fully alive?
I wish I knew the answer.  I wish I could say something meaningful to make sense of it all.
I do know, Christ was the first to weep for Kristi. God cried as he extended his hand to guide Kristi from this life and give her new life.      
I do know, as we heard from our first reading,
“There is an appointed time for everything... A time to give birth, and a time to die... a time to weep, a time to mourn.”
A freak accident took her earthly life. But that’s not the end of Kristi’s story. It’s the only beginning.
For Christ, it didn’t end on the cross. That was not the end of the story, but the beginning.
A new book was written with the Resurrection. In Christ’s obedience to God’s plan and loving sacrifice for us all, the gates of heaven were opened for all who believed in our savior and we were all given the hope of eternal life.
And for Kristi, her story didn’t end on the trestle. Her earthly journey may have come to a close, but her eternal life was just beginning.

As St. Paul reminded us in the second reading:
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We’ve all seen signs of Kristi’s spirit alive in our community this past week.
Kristi was with us when our softball team had a miraculous comeback against a league-leading rival. Kristi was with us when our soccer team played one of its best games of the season. Kristi was with Cole Brandt, her prom date, as he was on the mound this week keeping batters off balance in an important game heading into the district championship series.  Kristi was with us at the track meet as her dearest friends Camilla and Rory stepped back onto the field to compete.
Kristi was with us as we celebrated her 18th birthday on what was the 40th day after the Resurrection, the Ascension.  And as we released a thousand balloons we heard a quote from Kristi’s day-planner that read, “It’s the saddest thing when angels fly away.”  She was with us again as those balloons soared high into the sunset.
And Kristi’s spirit is here with us now. Her beauty is present in these pictures and in the memories we hold deep in our hearts. Her spirit is here in the love we all feel for her today.
Kristi soars now with a choir of angels. Perhaps she’s now the fastest angel. Or at least the angel with quirkiest (or as her friends would say “weirdest”) sense of humor.
I’m sure she’s entertaining her fellow cherubim and seraphim with her funny accents and telling God stories about each and every one of us.
Thoughts like this bring me peace. I hope they do the same for you.
Kristi loved her Kairos retreat experience at Archbishop Murphy. I met Kristi for the first time last fall when this young lady with the infectious smile came up to say, “Thank you” for letting her take part in a life changing faith experience.

In the spring, Kristi signed up to lead Kairos and had her heart set on doing a certain role. But the adult leaders knew this would be her only time to lead and wanted her to be the face of the retreat along with several others.
She let me know her disappointment in a very direct manner. That was Kristi’s way. She liked to get her way.
But I asked her to pray on our decision and ask God where the best place was for her. She came back a day later, resigned and said, “OK, I’ll do it.”
After our retreat she thanked me profusely for pushing her to be a leader. She told me she felt it was where God wanted her to be, touching the lives of others with her compassionate care and concern for the wellbeing of others.
As I’ve heard from those in her charge this week, she had a tremendous impact on their lives.
Kristi felt her Kairos experiences helped draw her closer to God.
The word Kairos stands for God’s time. We live in what is called Chronos, human time. Time we can keep on a watch.
Kristi now lives eternally in Kairos.  She will wait there for each and every one of us, ready to greet us when our earthly lives come to an end. 
So, may “our hearts burning [within us]” as we think of Kristi’s new life in Christ Jesus
And let us always remember, today is not good bye, only see you later. See you later, Kristi.

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