A Funeral Sermon for a Dad

Interesting scripture readings. So many places to choose from. A mountain, web, a tent, a building, heaven. home, a body, and judgment seat. Jesus just says, “place” or other versions call it a mansion. Jesus also calls the place a “room.” Jesus finally even gives us directions on how to get to that “place.” It’s all done through him- for he is the “way, truth and life.”

It’s a recipe for all our lives and tonight it’s a recipe about Bob’s life. It’s the place that his parents craved out for his growing up years. It’s the modeling they showed to him growing up. Life lessons that he may have used in his own life, his marriage, in carving out his own home for his family – watching them grow up and watching himself grow older.

The most significant place, however, is the place within ourselves. The peace and contentment that we’re able to enjoy because of our beautiful faith, our honored commitments, possessing a fiery passion for integrity and personhood. It’s the recipe we all cook for ourselves – baking, simmering until we get it, like the chef would say, “Well done.” A life well done, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” God asks no less of us then he asked of His son. That’s how Jesus became the “way, truth and life” and becomes the best meal we’ll ever eat.

There are six characters we play out in life. To miss one is to miss a part of life’s full recipe. I know this because I learned it from that great philosopher and theologian, Frank Sinatra. They are a “puppet, pauper, pirate, poet, a pawn and a king.”

A puppet. Growing up, we go along with the group until we find our own way, our own path. To do otherwise would be to stay with a like-minded group. (I think that’s called a ghetto.) We imitate until our identity unfolds. We steal our dad’s shoes and try them on for size. Why too big shoes for tiny feet but they feel comfortable, just the same.

A puppet is but a stepping stone to climbing life’s next stone, a pauper. You’re pockets are empty but your head is full of dreams, ready to be tested and tested again for the rest of your life. As we age, we forget about puppet but amazingly, I found working in a retirement home for many years that people never, ever forget their pauper years. Alway crisp in their memories which explains all the many, many sugar packets found in their closet after their death.

Pauper creates the anchor to become a pirate. A pirate takes risks, samples the water before jumping in, steals ideas from co-workers and even steals magic beans to create a personal beanstalk that can never be cut down. Magic beans that grow into a loving marriage, children, passionate about work and the culture in which we live. Magic beans that magically become all of our adult years. The magical years of pirating ought to be envied by us all, especially if we missed them. (Or, if a bean or two were thrown away and is now regretted.)

Next comes poetry – the written music of life, very personal and can often be misunderstood by others but the words, spoken and unspoken captures a moment’s feeling – whether good or depressing. If the soul is represented by any of Frank’s qualities, then it has to be poetry. Poetry shows our souls and then offers it back to God, from whom it can, as beautifully as a soft snowfall.

A pawn? It’s the most expendable of all the Chess pieces, yet it is also necessary for working toward a victory. A father or dad is an instrumental pawn – needed for work, stability, periodic advice. Like St. Joseph, a dad is necessary, a quiet figure that moves a family forward. Mother is the enveloping family presence of nurturing and caring. In Chess, a pawn is sacrificed for a greater goal. In life, we make sacrifices for another to blossom and bloom, toward a greater good. That’s parenting. That the job of the family’s pawn.

And the king? It’s not Frank’s “King of the hill,” song and being full of himself because a king can do nothing more than to serve. From the tiniest of good deeds done to all offered up for the sake of someone else – that defines the character of kingship. Kingship knows no gender. Kingship is the offering from a loving wife and family watching a loved one slowly die to realize that your sacrifice takes him away from all of you but relieves him of further suffering or pain.

I hope that Bob was able to fully experience all six characters during his journey through life. Those six characters now lead him to a place of light, happiness, and peace. I believe we Christians call that place, “Heaven.”

Scripture Readings:
Gospel of St. John 14:1-6, Prophet Isaiah 25:6a,7-9, and Paul’s 2 Corinthians 5:1,6-10.

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS. All available in paperback or Kindle
on Amazon.com
“Soulful Muse,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
“Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
“Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of letters written by my cats over twenty years
“Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com. Six books on the Catholic church and U.S. culture are available on Amazon.com.
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