Homily for the Funeral Mass of
Rosario “Rose” Celestino-Bernabe
By Deacon Dunbar Ferdinand, p.d.
Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 – Feast of St Joseph
My dear friends there is a lot that can be said about today’s readings that we just heard. Together they show God’s compassion and love for us. From the book of wisdom I quote, “The souls of the righteous are in the hands of God, and no torment will ever touch them.” Isn’t this comforting to know that no torment will ever touch those who are righteous even at their passing?
From Paul’s Letter to the Romans we hear these words, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?” Yes, all of us who are baptized have been baptized into His death; thus we, the baptized, will rise with Him in His Resurrection. This is both comforting and reassuring. To rise with Christ our Saviour means life everlasting.
Finally, the Psalmist tells us, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful one.” In the Preface of the Mass for the Dead the Priest prays, “In Him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come.”
I have always listened very attentively to this prayer because in it we hear of the Lord’s promise of immortality for all of us who love Him and obey Him. What more can we desire? We become immortal – we rise with Christ.
My dear friends, we all know that death brings with it sorrow, grief, mourning, and tears, but we must never despair. For the Lord says to us in today’s Gospel, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live even though he dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Martha said “Yes!” to all of this when Jesus asked her “Do you believe this?”
I ask you now, “Do you believe this?” I know you do. Let us continue to believe. At the resurrection, Jesus gives spiritual life to the physically dead. As the Life, Jesus does not allow the spiritual death to envelop or to touch those who believe in Him. Spiritual death, you see, is when we are overcome by evil and sin. We believe, we confess, we repent and He forgives. We are healed and we receive a new life.
Martha was not amazed as the crowd was, over the deeds of Jesus, because she believed that God is the Source of Jesus’ Power. The crowds did not; they doubted. Many were there for the spectacle, the fun, the amazement of what Jesus might do…. Would He raise the dead man to life as He had done before?
From the very beginning it was not meant that men and women should see death. They were to live for ever as companions and children of God. Death later entered the picture through Adam and Eve. We may say Our Lord Jesus Christ showed his displeasure for death, when He not only wept at the physical death of Lazarus but on a number of occasions when he restored the physically dead to life again. We see this with Lazarus and also the daughter of Jairus and the widow’s son.
Jesus had compassion on those mourning the dead. In fact his compassion was first of all for the sick and suffering whom He healed. Our Lord Jesus Christ loves us all. Our Heavenly Father loves us all. God does not want us to suffer. But, there is a “but” since we lost that initial union with God, it was necessary to find a way to be reunited with our bodies to God. This body is made by God, in his own image and which he found to be made very good as all his other works. God wants us back.
Our mortal bodies are corrupt and need to become immortal or incorruptible so that they may be reunited with God in his heavenly kingdom. We must all be lifted up and we cannot be lifted up in this mortal state. Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life came to teach us the way to heaven. He is our Redeemer and Friend. He died for us. His suffering and death are real.
As Catholics we believe in Mary, our Blessed Mother and the Mother of Jesus. Mary loves us all her children as only a mother could love her children. She wept at her Son’s death with the women of Jerusalem. I assure you that she is with us now as she is with us at all times.
Let us strive with hope and love. Hope in the resurrection and hope in life hereafter. We need the love of God and the love of each other as it is; this love that would unite us and save us, and take us through the period of sorrow.
Lastly and very sincerely, we offer our love and our sympathy with God’s blessings on every member of Rose’s family and friends. “Yes Lord I do believe!” Amen.