It was my honor to say the funeral mass for Anne Marie McGowan Murphy this morning at St. Mary of the Assumption in Katonah, I’d like to share my homily with you.
Michael, Kelly Anne, Colleen, Thomas, and Paige;
Hugh and Alice;
Hugh and Valerie;
Mary Pat and Jim;
Tom and Clare;
Peter and Toni;
Alice and Eddie;
Catherine and Thom;
dear family and close friends of Annie:
we love you very much!
With you we cry, and do not really know what to say . . .
With you, and for you, we pray hard:
thanking God for Annie’s life;
asking His mercy in bringing her to her true and eternal home of heaven, as Jesus just promised us in the gospel;
and seeking God’s strength for you, the strength mentioned by St. Paul this morning, as you continue to persevere through this tragic loss.
These sentiments of love, prayer, sympathy, and solidarity, come from all of us – - Father Connors, Father Paul, Father Dominic and the parishioners of St. Mary’s Parish, Annie’s spiritual home; from my brother priests; from so many friends and neighbors, indeed, from all over our country and our world – - as we come to Annie’s funeral.
In the wisdom of Holy Mother Church, a funeral Mass is not so much about the life and death of the person we come to bury, but primarily about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus . . .
Jesus, the divine Teacher, the greatest teacher ever;
Jesus, our divine friend, who had a favored place in His Sacred Heart for children and for people with special needs;
Jesus, who told us that, “Greater love than this no one has, than to lay down his life for his friends;”
Jesus, who brought all creation together by His own death on the cross, as He died so we could live forever;
Jesus, who, by rising from the dead, dramatically showed us that the violence, darkness, evil, and death of that Friday does not have the last word, because, when God His Father gives life, that life is forever, and cannot be destroyed.
Annie would indeed want us to make all of this about Jesus, because she was a woman of faith.
I never had the honor of meeting Annie, so I’m at a disadvantage.
Then, again, I never had the honor of physically meeting Jesus, yet my union with Him is the most important thing in my life.
And, because I know Jesus, I feel as if I know Ann Marie McGowan Murphy quite well!
Like Jesus, Annie was an excellent teacher;
Like Him, she had a favored place in her big, tender heart for children, especially those with struggles;
Like Jesus, Annie laid down her life for her friends;
Like Him, she has brought together a community, a nation, a world, now awed by her own life and death;
Like Jesus, Annie’s life and death brings light, truth, goodness, and love, to a world often shrouded in darkness, evil, selfishness, and death.
So, while this is first about Jesus, it’s also about Annie, because, simply put, she lived and died in, with, and through Him. She reminds us of Jesus.
You realize tomorrow, December 21, is the darkest day of the year, with the sun – - S – U – N – - at its lowest point;
You realize, too, that the following day the sun – - S – U – N – - begins its ascent again, as the days gradually get brighter;
You realize that we will soon celebrate the birth of the son – - S – O – N – - who came long ago at Bethlehem with the Christmas gift of eternal life for those who believe.
You realize that, as we trust in God’s mercy, Annie now has opened this supreme Christmas present.