Bishop commemorates lives lost this year in Memorial MassMonday 4th January 2021
On 31st December, Bishop John Celebrated a Mass to remember all those who have lost their lives this year.
This year, grieving has been different and difficult, yet many of us have faced loss. Covid restrictions on funerals and the number of people who can attend have made it difficult to gather with family and friends to remember the person we have lost.
In his Homily, Bishop John said: “In my years of Priesthood, I have had the privilege of celebrating many Requiem Masses, of conducting many funerals and cremations and celebrating Masses in commemoration of people. Very often, I have not known the person for whom I am celebrating the Mass or conducting the funeral, but it seemed to me over time that there were two things that were expressed in different ways on various occasions. Things needed to be remembered, and then a challenge to be presented.
“I think the first thing that is so important at any funeral or Requiem is that we gather with our best thoughts of the person important to us that we have lost. That we stand, for many other people that that person may have known, and join and offer all of those memories of the blessings they have placed upon our lives. Their kindness, generosity, goodness, their good example – whatever it may have been. Because this was not just their kindness to us, but it was God working through them as a channel of His love and grace. And how important it is that we remember the goodness of the people who have blessed our lives and have been important to us and to give thanks to God for their presence in our lives, although there’s the sadness of losing them, how much we honour them by those good memories. So it’s important always to gather those good thoughts, and to think about how we might best honour that person by taking the goodness of their lives and reflecting in our own lives. Learning from their generosity about our generosity and care for others, about kindness and goodness. About the various things that we have received from God, through them that we can now offer to other people in honour of the person they have lost.
“Then I think we have an important duty to do as Christians. We are a family and we are responsible for one another, and it’s important that whoever may have gone from us, we must pray for them because whoever they were, they were human and they have faults and failings too. It is our privilege to pray for God’s mercy on their lives. And mercy has nothing to do with justice, mercy is just God’s loving kindness and He offers His infinite mercy to us. So with confidence, we can pray for the person who has gone before us who we have loved, and we can be confident in asking God in His infinite mercy to receive them into the Kingdom that he has prepared for all of us. That’s our Solemn duty as Christians.
“And then, I think, that every Requiem and funeral should present us with a bit of a challenge. Death is there, it is a part of the cycle of life, but in death for us Christians, life is not ended, it is simply changed. We move into the next chapter. But maybe, when we lose someone important to us this is a moment to think what is my life about, what am I doing, what should my priorities be? How can I contribute to the wellbeing of the world in which I live? And perhaps that challenge is all the more relevant in these days of pandemic, when surely we want to emerge from the pandemic with a world which is a little bit better than the one we had before. Where we have better priorities for our brothers and sisters, our care for one another and to avoid that marginalisation and isolation that people face. Pope Francis calls us a throwaway society and he includes in that that we throw away people when they are no longer useful to us. Maybe this is a great opportunity for us to be learning about a better world and how we can put that in place as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.
“This is an important occasion. You’re here because you have lost someone important to you. Let’s be thankful for all the goodness of their lives, for the way that we have benefitted from their kindness and their blessing to us. Let’s pray for them, that God will in His infinite mercy receive them into his loving presence. And let’s challenge ourselves, so that we may be all God wants us to be, and all that God has equipped us to be. And let’s pray that the Lord will stay with us on this journey through our lives.
“Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace.”