One Funeral for A Married Couple

(Unusual as it is, Jean was in hospice but Bob got sick and died. Jean passed away shortly after. One sermon for two people.)

2332952_l“Since he was the only man in Beauty Salon school he decided to date each student alphabetically. He stopped at “D.” That’s a union made in heaven for over sixty years.

Our thoughts and prayers today truly lead us to this unusual occasion. Is it a picture of true devotional love or just a weird coincidence? Or is it both. If you saw a movie end this way you’d say to yourself, “Ya, right” and wash the popcorn bowl.

I had a funeral for gentleman at 106 years old. It was the talk of the week from vigil through the lunch. In my sermon I said don’t let his age define him. He was a whole person and that needs to be honored. I thought of saying that to you today.

But then I decided I was wrong. Their side by side deaths is a story to be retold at cocktail parties, family gatherings and remembered by us all because it was their end.

Endings. We hate them after watching a great movie and love them when the boring meeting is over. I have a friend who reads the final chapter of a book first. A mystery novel? Who does that? He says it helps him appreciate the rest of the book knowing how it’s going to end. Go figure.

Go figure? Isn’t that the story of our faith? Isn’t that how Bible stories are remembered in order to be lived? We start with the end and work our way back through all that precedes it. The proof is today’s gospel. (And I wrote this before I knew what the gospel was going to be! Great minds?)

We start with the resurrection and slowly begin to understand what Christmas means. We start with Christ’s death to know what a meaningful life leading up to it means and looks like for us. At Baptism, the end is mentioned a lot. Death to sin and rising to new life. A white garment to be faithfully carried throughout your life until … yes, death. At today’s ending, we recall those baptismal promises with a white garment draped over death and sprinkled with living water. The candle their godparents held many years ago is now exchanged with the pascal candle, the risen Christ.

We start with the end and work our way back. Isn’t that what those doubtful apostles did? After the resurrection, they finally begin to say to each other, “Oh, that’s what he meant when he said this or that or told us that parable or healed that guy or gal in all those towns. Now it all makes sense.”

Those who knew Bob and Jean can now work your way back in remembering and appreciating their relationship, their commitment, their family and friends, what they thought was important to preserve and what they discarded because it had no value for them. I’m not talking about physical stuff but I’m talking about the stuff of life. Attitudes, values, beliefs – any sayings, slogans or stories they may have tossed around hoping it would land in a young child’s lap and heart. Any good deed or sacrifice they made knowing they had a context, an anchor in their in which to do it: their mutual love for each other.

At a funeral last Saturday the son said in his eulogy, “We’re are now parentless.” I thought to myself, “They ain’t dead, they’re just not here anymore. Their loving commitment can create chapters and chapters for each of our lives to recount and remember as we continue to live faithful lives.

So, go ahead and remember this ending day for Jean and Bob. For all of our personal commitments and promises – may we be faithful to the end. The end. Or, is it?”

Books by Fr. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.
All available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                           “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

                         “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.
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