Funeral Homily: Steve

May 11, 2018

The following is a homily I delivered at a funeral yesterday at St. Matthew Parish in Indianapolis:

How ever you know Steve, whatever your connection is to him, it is good that you are here. It is good that we are gathered here, in this church, together. When we gather in community, no one needs to handle the pain they are feeling on their own. That pain is dispersed throughout the crowd, lightening the load for each of us just a little, perhaps making it a bit more manageable. Thank you for being here.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled…have faith in God…”

Those words come from the Gospel of John I just read: “Do not let your hearts be troubled… have faith in God…”

If John were here with us, I would tell him, “You’re too late, John. Our hearts are already troubled. Delores’ husband, Chris’ son, Michelle and Nicole’s brother – is gone. Our uncle, friend, co-worker, and coach is gone. We are troubled…we are sad…we are grieving.”

It is not only the loss that troubles us, but also the why. Why would God take Steve from us? Why now? Why someone so young, so good, so loved? How does this make sense? These types of questions can consume us.

The mistake many of us make in our grief is asking those questions while walking away from God. We disconnect from God in our sorrow. We walk away from Him, trying to make sense of something that we will never fully understand.

At the very time we need God the most, we seek Him out the least.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled…have faith in God…”

I believe what John is trying to tell us is this: “When our hearts are troubled…rely on our faith in God.” Troubled hearts are inevitable. It is our faith that will ultimately bring us peace, bring us comfort.

Our hearts are troubled, so we turn toward God to say, “I am hurting right now. I don’t understand why this has happened, but I put my trust in You.” That is an expression of faith. Our faith has been challenged; it is time to trust.

That is the theological, what about the practical? What can we do to help ease the pain? How do we move forward?

Family may find solace in knowing they helped form Steve into the man he was. Chris – Steve’s “gentle giant” nature didn’t happen by chance. You taught and instilled in him a genuineness. You helped him develop a love of family, a sense of loyalty, and a “How can I help?” approach to life.

Delores – you were the rock for a man who was a rock for so many others. You not only fed his passion for baseball, but embraced it, making it a shared experience. You were life-giving to Steve.

Many of you helped shape Steve, and it should bring some consolation knowing that you brought joy and purpose to his life.

However, we are called to action, not only pleasant memories. Our responsibility moving forward is to act as stewards, or caretakers, of the many gifts Steve shared with us. We honor Steve by joyfully paying those gifts forward. His legacy will be preserved in how we share his gifts with others.

What does that mean?

  • It means when you have a chance to mentor a young person, take it! Be a mentor!
  • It means strive to have others say you are full of life, just like Steve
  • Be someone others can depend on
  • Be fiercely competitive – in all the right ways
  • Be generous and loyal
  • Be “all in” when it comes to friendship
  • Pay attention to detail and take the right approach to everything you do…I’m not sure you have to make big charts that analyze every pitch a kid ever threw…but pay attention to detail
  • Give 100% and do your best in all you do

I have talked to a number of people about Steve and the impact he had on their lives. When our time comes, we should all be so lucky as to have what Steve had: People who were impacted by his life, and people who are challenged to be better people by his death.

Thank you, Steve. May God welcome You with loving arms into His kingdom.

**********

Often when someone dies suddenly, things go unsaid. You never had a chance for that final conversation. You never had a chance to say, “I love you” or “Thank you.” Or perhaps, “Forgive me” or “I forgive you.”

The Church teaches us that in death the faithful become members of the communion of saints and are here with us in solidarity. Steve is here with us.

So I will end by asking you to do the following: Take a moment now, in the silence that follows, to speak to Steve from your heart. Not aloud, but in silence, have that brief conversation with him. He is listening.

 

 

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