Homily from Father Jim Hogan for March 20, 2013

  • FUNERAL: Wednesday 03/20/13    John  21: 1-19 
  • Celebration of the Life of Patrick Robins

Print PDF: Homily for March 20, 2013

Given Pat’s love for water and fishing you may expect this homily to focus on that part of this gospel text.  Your reflections about Pat before we began were simply wonderful and you took care of the emphasis on fishing.  So in this homily I am calling your attention to the continuation of this text  — the intimate moment when the Risen One questions Simon Peter,  “do you love me?”

I stand here among and before you, ordained priest in the Catholic household of faith.  I look into your faces knowing common expectations cast those of us ordained in the role of “death’s interpreter.”  You know what? ** I do not know any more about death than you do!  Ten days ago I sat at Pat’s bedside with some of his family, preparing him for his journey. It was profoundly moving.  I have been privileged to accompany many for that journey. I have shed tears over coffins of my own family and so many others, but have not yet closed my eyes for the last time. I do not know any more about death than you do!  I can only share with you my faith and what I have come to believe through a lifetime of prayer.

His days among us have come to closure.  The biological clock of Pat Robins, this man with the warm, infectious smile and the large, welcoming heart has stopped.  Pat has closed his eyes for the last time.

I think one symbol of his passing to fuller life is the Berkley Pit in Butte.  The death of Pat Robins leaves a terrible, huge hole in our lives. We acknowledge that hole, so easily filled with tears.

Another symbol of Pat’s passing to fuller life is that man who lived in first century Palestine.  His name is Jesus of Nazareth. For me, as perhaps for all of you, the Risen Christ is the core and foundation of my faith. He cared about people more than religious laws or ritual. He loved all without condition, even those who made him a cosmic outcast.  His message and his behavior provoked a harsh response from authorities.  He simply was too human for them!

Unlike any other life form, we who are human have the capacity to love others.   Think of that!  We who are human have the capacity to love one another!  Our ability to love is amazing!   The more fully developed that capacity, the more fully human we are.  Jesus was dead.  But because his capacity to love others was so developed, because he was so deeply and profoundly human, his life was transformed by that Gracious Mystery we name God.

After the confusion in Jerusalem, Peter and his companions returned to Galilee as if nothing significant occurred. They return to their trade and go fishing.  But without Jesus “their nets were empty!”   Their life was empty! Initially Peter and his companions did not recognize the Risen One standing on the shore.

Something significant had occurred!  Their friend Jesus had entered the timelessness of universal consciousness.  It is the Risen One who asks, “Simon Peter, do you love me?”   The question is addressed not only to Peter, but also to all of us who name ourselves “church.” **  “Do you love me?”  **  “Yes Lord, you know I love you.”  “Then feed my sheep.”  “Do what I did.”  “Become what I am.”  “Continue my work.” “Feed my sheep!”  “Be agents of love.”  “Allow my way of being to become your own.”  Then you too will become more fully human and alive.

“Simon Peter, do you love me?”  The question is about more than a response to the historical Jesus they had known.  The Galilian was so deeply and profoundly human that he was raised triumphant over death.  Now it is the faith of the Church that all humanity is embodied in Christ!  We share in the life of God, just as Jesus did.  All people of all time are embodied in and identified with the Risen Christ.   “Feed my sheep” is a summons calling us to love others; to enable others to know the deep goodness with them, and to become more fully human and more fully alive.

The biological clock of Pat Robins, this man with the warm, infectious smile and large, welcoming heart has stopped.  Pat has closed his eyes for the last time.  Death leaves terrible holes in the lives of those who survive.  Pat’s death leaves a terrible hole in us, like the Berkley Pit, so easily filled with tears.  The pain of his leaving and our separation is not meaningless. You are here today because Pat Robins loved you; and you know it!

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