My brothers and sisters, today we gather for two reasons, firstly to remember the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ, and secondly to mourn the tragic loss of Manuel: our friend, our brother, our son, our grandson, our husband, our father.
When a death occurs, especially to one so young, questions of the most important nature come to mind, specifically: Why? Why him? Why now? Why, God, would you let this happen? It’s good that we ask these questions, it’s even better when we put these questions to God in prayer. It’s good if we get angry, because it’s normal–It’s part of the human condition, and it’s part of the grieving process; and it’s even better when we give our anger to God in prayer, because I promise you, He wants to join with you in that pain and suffering.
The thing is, though, that all the questions and all the anger in the world will do nothing to take away the pain of this loss. However, it does get a little easier to deal with as time goes on, when we take it more and more to prayer, when we begin giving thanks to God for the blessing of Manuel in each of our lives.
Just as well, the Gospel we heard reminds us that we gather not just to mourn in sadness, but rather to mourn in the hope of the resurrection of the body.
“For this is the will of [the] Father,” Christ tells us, “that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and [Christ] shall raise him on the last day.”
As Catholics, we take Christ at his word and trust in what he tells us today in the Gospel. And so, this is what we have to look forward to, this resurrection of the body on the last day. And this resurrection is intrinsically linked to our baptism in the Lord. This pall, this white cloth that’s draped over the coffin of Manuel, is a symbol of his baptism; it’s also a symbol of our Christian hope in the resurrection.
Our faith tells us that when we enter into the baptismal waters, we are made new people in Christ, that we are made into proper Sons and Daughters of the Most High. We are given to Christ by the Father, to protect, and not to lose; we are grafted onto his side, to join with Him in His death, so that we might also join with Him in His resurrection. And just as Christ rose from the dead on the third day, we also wait with Christian hope for the resurrection of the dead on the last day. This is good news indeed, this resurrection of the dead.
And yet, we know not the day nor the hour of the second coming of the resurrection of the dead. And so, what’s a Christian to do? Quite simply, pray. Pray for our own sanctification, and most importantly, pray for the repose of the soul of Manuel; that God takes him to Himself, and that we might one day see him again at the resurrection.
It’s to this end that we pray:
Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
And let perpetual light shine upon them.
May the soul of Manuel and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.