You Do Not Belong to Death!
(General Funeral Homily)
Dear friends, we are united with you today in sorrow at the death of _________________________.
The reality of death, with all its pain and sense of loss, confronts us at this moment. But as we are united in sorrow, we are also united by something else... our Faith.
Confronted with the reality of death, we must allow ourselves to be confronted with the reality of our Faith.
The reality... not a "maybe" or "I hope so" or fantasy or wishful thinking, but a reality.
Our Faith opens our minds to the whole picture about life, death, and what happens after death.
Only in the light of our Faith can we begin to understand what has happened to ___________________ and how we are to keep going from here.
When in our Faith we speak about heaven, and resurrection, and the next life, we do not speak about these things primarily because they give us consolation and strength.
They certainly do that, but the primary reason we speak of these things is because they are True.
God has spoken His Word to us; we hear it in the Scriptures and in the teachings of our Church, and we respond to it by saying, "Yes, I believe; it is true!"
God has broken the silence about death, and told us that He has conquered it!
Death was not part of God's original plan; it came into the world because of sin. Death is not from God; death is from turning away from God.
Yet God did not leave us in death's power. He sent Christ, who died and rose again and conquered death!
God has spoken to the world through Christ, and told us that He wants to give us victory over death in and through Jesus Christ!
Because of this, a Christian is not silent in the face of death! Many people, on coming to a wake or funeral, do not know what to say! Death seems to have the last word. But we who believe are not silent. We speak! Christ is risen! Death has been conquered!
Many people think that the story of human life is, "Birth, life, and death."
For a Christian, it's different. The story is not "Birth, life, and death," but rather, "Life, death, and Resurrection!"
Death does not have the last word; life does!
Death is not the last period after the last sentence of the last chapter of the human story. There's another chapter to come! Death is not the end of the human story; it's the middle.
The end of the story is Resurrection and life that has no end!
The farewell that we give to ________________ today is a temporary farewell;
(the burial we give ____________________ is a temporary burial.)
He/she will live! He/she will rise!
The ceremony today contains many reminders of this, and it points us to the fact that _________________ was baptized.
We sprinkled the casket (remains) with holy water at the beginning of the ceremony... This recalls the waters of baptism that were once poured on ___________________
The white funeral pall is a reminder of the white garment placed on the newly-baptized... a sign of the new life of Christ given to the Christian.
This candle is the Easter candle; it is present at every baptism, and symbolizes the Risen Christ.
When ______________________ was baptized, the life of the Risen Christ was poured into his/her soul!
He/she began to share, here on earth, the life of heaven!
At baptism, God rescued ________________________ from the power of death; He literally snatched him/her from the dominion of death and transferred him/her into the Kingdom of Christ -- a kingdom of eternal life.
Christ said to _______________________ on that day, "You do not belong to death! You belong to me!"
Therefore, a Christian does not merely die. A Christian dies in Christ. Those two words, "in Christ," make all the difference in the world!
We belong to Him by baptism, and we live in Him by a life of prayer, obedience to His teachings, and faithfulness to the sacraments of the Church. If we live in Christ and die in Christ, we will rise in Christ!
In the midst of all this, should we grieve?
Yes, brothers and sisters, it is OK to grieve; it is natural, because we love ________________________.
Even Christ wept when His friend Lazarus died... and He wept even though He was about to bring Him back to life!
Yes, we as Christians grieve. But we grieve with hope.
It is OK to be sad today that we do not see _________________ anymore, but it would be wrong to think we will never see him/her again.
It is OK to grieve, but it is wrong to despair.
Christ is alive!
We pray today for __________________ that he/she may complete the journey to heaven.
Pray for him/her every day, and for yourselves.
Look at him/her today and say with faith, "____________________, you do not belong to death. You belong to Christ, and so do we!" Amen.
(This homily was adapted from one written by Father Pavone "Priests for Life")