Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Funeral Homily-9/23/13, James Stamm

There is a prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola called the generosity prayer. In the light of Jim's 'pay it forward' attitude it seems appropriate to share it now-" O God, teach me to be generous; to serve as you deserve to be served; to give without counting the cost; to fight without fear of being wounded; to work without seeking rest; and to spend myself without expecting any reward, but the knowledge that I am doing your holy will." In the shock, grief and sadness of losing someone as special as Jim we are at a loss for words. As I said at the wake last night if there were a special prayer I could say to bring him back I would. "Stay with us" the disciples say in today's Gospel when they discover their best friend is walking with them. Of course we say "Stay with us!" Who wouldn't? Jim was so full of life and was taken with so much more to live. Questions abound...where was God...How could a good God...a loving God allow such a thing to happen? There are no easy answers to these questions but we shouldn't be afraid to ask them. It is also ok to be angry with God. He has broad shoulders. In the Gospel of John it says " I no longer call you slaves because a slave does not know what his Master is doing. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from the Father." "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jim laid down his life for his family, his friends, his co-workers, and in so doing imitated the generous love of our Heavenly Father. Jesus uses the analogy of childbirth to explain the transition from death to life. He says "you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when he has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So also you are now in anguish. But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you." As Christians we place our hope in the risen Jesus Christ. Just as the disciples rejoiced on seeing Jesus on the road to Emmaus, so too, you will rejoice when you see Jim again. This is what we place our hope in. We have to. St. Paul says in his letter to Timothy that "there is one God. There is also one mediator between God and the human race Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for many. Hence we can say that it is the will of the Father that all of us be reunited in Our Father's house. The thing that will keep you going in days/weeks/years ahead is the virtue of Hope. St. Paul tells us-"eye has not seen, ear has not heard what God has waiting for those who love him." Kyle and Matthew, your dad introduced you to some of the marvels in God's classroom-nature. I pray that you continue to find in nature some spark of the divine. If there is an artist, there must be a super-artist. Consider this....Green Sea Turtles return each year to the place where they were hatched and in the process swim 2,800 miles! California Grey whales each year migrate 26,000 miles to their breeding grounds and then back to their feeding grounds. Arctic terns fly up to 20,000 miles each year. Monarch butterflies depart from a plateau in Central Mexico to summer as far north as Canada where they mate and lay eggs. The Peregrine Falcon can spot a pigeon from more than five miles. Why do I say all this? These marvels all point to a Creator, God, who holds everything in a delicate balance. This is why St. Paul has that marvelous hymn of confidence in Romans 8: "If God is for us, who can be against us? What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who first loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord." Each of you has experienced a tremendous loss but we can take comfort in the promises of Jesus. How to honor Jim? Be awake and alive to beauty, keep your eyes open for what I call the "winks of God", and dedicate your life to one of generosity. Pay it forward. Light a candle and be the one to make a difference in someone else's life. Jim...your family and friends miss you dearly and they await the promise of the Book of Revelation where "God will wipe every tear from their eyes and there shall be no more death or mourning or wailing or pain for the old order has passed away."

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