I wanted to post my entire homily for Amanda Bach. I was under quoted in the newspapers so I felt that I needed to let everyone see what I said. There are some highlights and underlines that I kept in there to help prompt me when I spoke. You may not reprint without permission.
Rev. Andrew J. Corona
Funeral Homily for Amanda Bach
Friday September 23, 2011
We all experience the occasions when the electricity suddenly and unexpectedly goes off. We know that when there is no power everything stops. In that moment we can almost hear silence. The natural hum around us is deadened. All of our creature comforts stop. The TV doesn’t work, the radio is silent, all of our electric appliances come to a *grinding halt. But the worst time for the power to go out is at night because now we are thrown into the darkness.
In this darkness we may become disoriented…we feel lost, helpless and maybe even frightened. Then we may become angry because now our lives have been interrupted and whatever we were doing or were hoping to do is at a standstill.
We want to know what’s going on. If it’s a passing thunderstorm we can easily understand but it doesn’t diminish our feelings. If it’s otherwise we just want to start blaming! Who caused this? What is going on? I paid the electric bill. Darn that NIPSCO! There is a whole range of emotions that may surge forward. Until the lights come back again, there is no peace.
Losing Amanda has also been like the power going out. One minute the sun is shining and the next thing we have is the experience of being thrown into the darkness. Without the slightest warning, or the slightest chance to prepare ourselves, we are plunged into an impenetrable darkness. In the space of a moment our whole world is turned upside down. Nothing could prepare us from the news we got this past weekend.
Naturally we ask why?** Why did this happen? We know there is a human factor but we don’t know why! Our anger becomes real when we learned of the cause. It is an anger that we can carry us to a place where we would rather not go. And, it is a place where we must not go!
You need to know that God’s passion for justice is fierce because he identifies so completely with those who are weak and powerless. God identifies with you who have suffered such a devastating loss.** Yes, God’s passion for justice is so fierce but his call for compassion, mercy and forgiveness is even more fierce! Bill, Sandra and Sarah, we cannot possibly know or understand what you are feeling, but there is someone who does. Jesus knows your pain. Jesus was himself a murder victim.”
I want to make it perfectly clear that God did not will this to happen. This was not the will of our God. It is through the human weakness of sin and selfishness that is at the core of this ending.
So, what do we do? Well, there is only one thing we can do. Just as when we experience a blackout we rush for a light, any light, even the light of a humble candle. But now the only rush to the one light that can penetrate this awful darkness. It is the light of Christ.
We are told in the Gospel that as Jesus Christ died on the cross and ‘darkness came over the whole land until mid- afternoon, while the sun’s light failed. This means that the family and friends of Jesus experienced what we are experiencing. They felt lost and disoriented. Their hopes and dreams were crumbled. They did not know that the darkness would not have the last word because the Light of Christ would shine again!
How wonderful it is when the lights come back on again. How wonderful then it must have been for the apostles when on that Easter day they walked once more in the light of our Lord. It was not quite the old light. It was brighter! It was the light of their risen Lord! He broke the chains of death and he triumphed over the grave.
Our risen Lord is with us now in this moment. His light shines on his children; you and I, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ. We must open our hearts to Christ who now lovingly embraces Amanda and us into his arms. Her life should not be defined by how it ended but rather by the way we loved her and how she shared her love with us.
St. Paul tells us that nothing, neither suffering, nor tragedy, nor death that can separate us from the love of God which we have witnessed in Jesus Christ.
And so now we come to this day. A day that, we too, will long for. A day when we come face to face with God, who will embrace us and welcome us home. We come to this church today and we are reminded of our humanity and the suffering we will endure as we complete our journeys. We are reminded through the celebration of this Eucharistic feast that God is extending his invitation to us at his table. To share and enjoy, to partake in his body and blood.
The tall white candle is the Paschal Candle. It stands besides the earthly remains at every funeral Mass. We call it the Paschal Candle because we light it at Easter. There are five grains of incense inserted in it symbolizing the five wounds of Jesus, the two wounds in his hands, the two in his legs and the wound in his side. It is almost as if Jesus is standing beside this coffin looking up at his Father and pleading on behalf of Amanda, saying, “Look, I bore these wounds in my body for the salvation of Amanda. I suffered, I died, I rose again for her. Forgive her Father and take her to Paradise.” Also in the Paschal Candle there are two letters of the Greek alphabet, the Alpha and Omega. In other words, Jesus is the beginning and end of all that we do and say. If it were not for Jesus suffering those five wounds, dying and rising, life would not have meaning. But Jesus was the beginning and end of Amanda’s life and is the beginning and end of all our lives. It is the Lord who gives meaning to our lives, especially in times of suffering.