Homily – November 12, 2017

About this same time last Sunday a group of about 50 men, women and children gathered at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs in Texas. As we do today so they did a week ago, they gathered to worship and praise Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Their gathering of worship and praise was turned into a blood bath as a mentally disturbed man shot and killed 26 of them and wounded many others.

Can you imagine how traumatized our parish family of St. Gabriel’s would be if such a similar thing happen within these walls? What might be the lasting effects of such a horror?

How will this small faith community in Sutherland Springs survive their senseless tragedy? They are supported by the other faith community in their small town and the prayers of people across the land. They will survive and live their faith lives more deeply because they believe, as we believe, the words of Paul in today’s Mass;’ we do not want you to be uninformed about those who have died, so that you do not grieve as others who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus; God will bring with him all who have died.

The survivors of that tragedy in the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas will move on and live on and love on. They will not grieve their great loss of family and friends like people who have no hope, men and women who see their death as an entrance into nothingness. These good people believe, as we believe, that Jesus Christ, through his death and resurrection is the Lord of life and the conqueror of death. They believe as we believe that death is not the end of life, it is the beginning of new and endless life.

This month of November with its many sunless days is the month of the Holy Souls. We remember those family members and friends who have died. We often see death as something that separates us from those we loved but the truth is that those who die in grace go no further from us that God and God is always near. They are with us as God is with us. They are with us as we remember, make present the past, what they said, what they did, their faults and failings, the good things they said and did. They are with us.

As we continue to celebrate this Mass, we make present the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus, that great event that assures us all of endless life with God, we remember our faithful departed and especially we remember and pray for the men, women and children of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas who died one week ago today. We pray too for the healing of body and mind of those good people who survived that awful day.

May a tragedy like last Sunday’s help each of us to appreciate the gifts of faith and life with which we have all been blessed.