Going Home

I recently had my first experience of being called to the bedside of a dying person. It was a sunny Saturday morning, and I had just enjoyed a wonderful breakfast with my children and grandchildren. Since it was Mother’s Day weekend, I was off to do some shopping for Anne while she and the grandchildren headed to the zoo. My phone rang in the car on the way to the mall. There was urgency in the voice of the caller, and I immediately turned my vehicle around and headed home to quickly change and make my way to the hospital.

Ron was a friend of mine from my home parish. His daughter and my daughter were best friends in grade school and throughout high school. I entered the hospital room where the family had gathered, introduced myself and led the family in prayers for Ron. Over the next 45 minutes, I watched as each member whispered words of comfort and love into Ron’s ear. Nurses came into the room frequently to check the monitors and to provide support. Ron passed from this world into the Father’s arms at 12:10 p.m. on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. I was blessed to offer the wake service and to assist and preach at his funeral Mass.

This weekend, the Church celebrates the Ascension of the Lord. After 40 days with his followers, Jesus ascended to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to guide His Church on earth. This was truly a homecoming unlike any the world has ever seen! Jesus completed the work the Father had sent him to do on this earth, and he returned to the Father.

I was deeply touched this week by the reality of death. Saying goodbye to a loved one is a painful and difficult experience. Jesus knew the day would come when he would leave those he loved on this earth and return to the Father. In a similar way, each of us knows that our time on this earth is short. In the case of my friend, Ron, cancer entered his life several years ago. Like many, he had several bouts of battling the illness, and ultimately, it was cancer that took his life. Ron fought bravely to the end, and despite the tears and pleas of his loved ones to stay, Ron was called to his true home in heaven. It was inspiring to witness Ron’s faith in God and the faith that sustained his family through this painful time.

The gospel I proclaimed at the foot of Ron’s bed on the day of his death is from John:14. Jesus, knowing that he would soon endure his passion and death, prepared his disciples for what was coming in these words:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”

The day of the Lord’s Ascension must have been a day of both sadness and joy for his disciples. Jesus had given them everything—his very life! And now Jesus was leaving them again; this time he would not return. The sadness of not having his physical presence with them on earth was tempered with joy for all the many gifts he left with them, as he went to the Father. Jesus now intercedes for all of us from the throne room in heaven!

Saying farewell to a loved one is never easy. Throughout the gospels, Jesus reminds us to be prepared, for we know not the day or the hour when we will be called home. Our life on this earth is a journey back to the Father who created us, to the Son who redeemed us and to the Spirit who guided us on our journey of earthly life. We are so blessed to be children of a loving Father! Let us celebrate this feast of the Ascension of the Lord with great joy, knowing that at each Mass Jesus gives us the greatest gift we can receive: His very Body and Blood as spiritual nourishment for our journey.

On a side note, I want to thank you again for all of your prayers, love, and support during my recent hospitalization and recovery. I am feeling much better! Your prayers have been a great comfort to me and my family, as I continue to explore the causes for the blood clots. God has brought me so many lessons and so much peace, during this time of suffering. I hope to be able to use some of my experience in future homilies, and as I minister to my brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks to each of you for your concern and your prayers. I love you so much!

In Christ,

Deacon Tim




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