Monday, May 1, 2017

Homily – Memorial Mass – Geraldine Gillespie Roe

Proverbs 31:10-12, 25-26, 28-31
1 John 3:1-2
  John 14:27-29, 15:9-12

What a gift we have in the Resurrection.
Geraldine understood the gift of the Resurrection.  It dictated how she lived her life, and the woman of worth she was to her husband, her children, her family and her friends. 
I sense we all saw glimpses of Geraldine in the woman of worth portrayed in our first reading from the Book of Proverbs.
            Through the gift of the Resurrection, this woman of worth Geraldine did not fear nor doubt, but believed in eternal life.
            Through the gift of the Resurrection, she knew her earthly mind and body would be restored. No more confusion. No more pain. No more suffering -- her strong, vital and brilliant self would be made new again in Christ.
Through the gift of the Resurrection, Geraldine understood Jesus broke the prison bars of death for her and rose victoriously with a promise to bring us, His believers, to Himself. 
That’s the message for the Apostles and for us all in today’s Gospel reading.
We’re at the sacred table for the Last Supper with Christ.
In that hallowed conversation, Jesus is reassuring the Apostles of a place in the Father’s House for His devout.
While the idea of Jesus’ imminent death shakes the Apostles, creating much fear, His reassurances calm their troubled hearts.
His death will be the greatest example of His love for the Father, His love for His closest friends, and His love for us all.
Franciscan Father Richard Rohr wrote these words, “I think this is Jesus’ major message:  there is something essential that we only know by dying. We really don’t know what life is until we know what death is. Death, which seems like our ultimate enemy, is actually the doorway. This is how Jesus ‘overcame’ and even ‘destroyed’ death.”
Jesus is leaving for the Father’s house. He’s leaving his followers with a promise to return in the Resurrection, a place in that house, and His peace.
This is a peace like none other.
          For context, it’s good to understand what the word peace meant at the time of Jesus. This word was proclaimed by Roman soldiers as Pax Romana or the peace of Rome. But this meaning had a violent undertone.
This was peace created by force and oppression.  Just think of the terror of the crucifixion and how it was used to scare conquered peoples into non-violent behavior and you understand the Roman concept of peace. In short, fear created peace. 
Jesus could tell fear was on the hearts of the Apostles in their final night together. That’s why he reassured them with the promise of His return, paradise, and His peace.
In their final conversation together, Jesus turns the meaning of the word peace on its head and instructs the disciples that only love creates peace -- most specifically, the love given to Jesus by His Father and shared with the disciples throughout their years together. 
This is the tie that binds.  This is their connection to Him, to the Father, to one another, and to the coming Resurrection.
Through its sanctifying power, the Resurrection is a divine gift for all humanity.
At the Easter Vigil we hear Christ’s Resurrection “washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners.
This Easter promise of the Resurrection is in Geraldine’s heart as she takes Jesus by the hand and joins Him in the Father’s house.
And what a reunion it must be. 
There she’s reunited with her mom and dad, and beloved little brothers Jack and Jim. There she’s reunited with her dear husband Willard and is surprised to find her son Jimmy there.
I can just imagine the conversation.
“What are you doing here, dear?”
“Ah, mom. I beat you to heaven. Now you know and can understand.”
What a gift we have in the Resurrection.
What a reunion awaits us all thanks to the love and peace that come from Christ.
Geraldine’s passing is only difficult for us who remain. Yes, there’s sadness and mourning here.
Catholic author Henri Nouwen wrote a beautiful book called “Turn My Mourning Into Dancing.”
In it he said this about our mourning when touched by the light of the Resurrection:
“If God is found in our hard times, then all of life, no matter how apparently insignificant or difficult, can open us to God’s work among us. To be grateful does not mean repressing our remembered hurts. But as we come to God with our hurts – honest, not superficially – something life-changing can begin slowly to happen. We discover how God is the One who invites us to healing. We realize that any dance of celebration must weave both the sorrows and the blessings into a (first) joyful step.”
So, as we take our first joyful steps in that dance, may we be thankful to God for the gift of Geraldine’s life. 
May we look forward to the gift of our own reunion with her and with all our
dearly departed loved ones someday.

May we be ever grateful for the gift of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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