Deacon Richard's funeral homily for Joshua
Deacon Richard Demers baptized Joshua. He also gave the homily at Joshua's funeral Mass. Below is a copy of the homily.
Just as God did not lose Joshua when He gave him to you, so you did not lose him when he returned to God. The yoke is not always easy, not to our limited perspective; the burden is sometimes more than we can bear. At least, it's more than we think we can bear. To be childlike in faith, the gospel tells us, is to have things revealed to us ... things that are hidden from the wise and the learned. In this child's faith, Joshua's question: "Can you run away from God?" is truly deep ... it's something we adults try to do every day of our lives. "You can try. But God can always find you, no matter where you go." In childlike faith, these words of his father were true and not to be disputed ... to the wise and the learned of the world, they're a challenge to find where God is not.
As a parent, I, too, fear that greatest of all nightmares: the death of one of my children. This is the difficult part of the yoke since we have no control over the time when we, or our children, are called home. We all know that in order to go to the Lord we must pass through that door, that threshold of life that is death. For some of us, as we grow older, there is an almost eager anticipation, for others, there is a growing fear of the unknown. For a child, death is a series of questions about what happens and how does it feel and when does it happen. The suffering and death of Our Savior is something our children can understand, and they do get it.
I've experienced that look of horror on people's faces when I relate to them that we had taught our children the blessings that suffering brings, in particular the blessing that was the suffering, death and resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. That very Catholic teaching is not to be tolerated by the world through lack of understanding and yet that was the teaching that was received by Joshua from his favorite person ... his mother. His faith accepted what he heard from her and he grew in strength and spirit until it was time to return to his Creator. The burden of parenthood is a heavy one, indeed, but Our Lord stands ready to help us, in fact He comes to us on this altar through our priests to offer us His strength, His shoulders to share that burden and to ease the yoke that we put upon ourselves. The burden of parenting ought to be easier than this. Joshua's return to God is something that no one here was prepared for and yet, he has never been more happy than he is right now. That knowledge brings us joy, but still there is that empty chair ...
I prayed to him last night ... this child that I had the honor of baptizing a little over a month after his birth ... that he might intercede with Our Lord and His Blessed Mother to give me the words that would help his family, especially his father and his mother, not just for today, but in the times to come. There is memory in the past, but there is life in the future. The future holds the promise of one day being reunited with Joshua. All the family gatherings to come are out there and all the suffering, too. All the things that are a part of our lives are hidden from our eyes today, but we go forward in faith.
In the sight of God, Joshua sees what we all long for ... what our souls want more than anything else ... what we cannot but dream of. The "sword warrior" stands at the foot of the throne of heaven to seek the favor of God for his loved ones who are gathered here today. For we are the ones who need prayer ... we are the ones who need strength ... we are the ones still on the journey that Joshua has completed. St. Paul echoes the cry of Joshua, the "sword warrior": "Therefore, put on the armor of God, that you may be able to resist on the evil day and, having done everything, to hold your ground. So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."
Standing in the sight of God, I believe Joshua would also say: "With all prayer and supplication, pray at every opportunity in the Spirit."