Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever!
Your Excellency, Bishop McFadden, I'm sorry to steal your line - but I can think of no better way to begin this homily than this: Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and forever! THAT is what Judy's life was all about - praising Jesus Christ - AND bringing others to praise Him as well in His Holy Catholic Church.
Some of you here may be asking a very difficult question: why? Why did something like this happen to such a wonderful and beautiful person? Why would this happen to such a loving, holy family?
We should be asking ourselves that question - because any time a tragedy like this happens it causes us to confront THE question that is in search of an answer. Judy knew that answer: Jesus Christ is the answer!
If we want to find the answer - wee cannot look here in this world - to anger or vengance, to retaliation or to "what if..."
The definitive answer only comes when we gaze upon Christ crucified. We may ask ourselves, "Why did THAT [the crucifixion] have to happen? Just as we ask ourselves now, "Why did THIS [Judy's death] have to happen?" Christ could have come down from the Cross when they mocked Him. God could cause any events here on earth to be different. But God CHOSE this way to show us one thing: what love really is.
Pope John Paul II, when he visited the United States in 1995, said:
"Jesus Christ is the answer to the question posed by every huamn life, and the love of Christ compels us to share that great good news with everyone. We believe that the Death and Resurrection of Christ reveal the true meaning of human existence; therefore nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in our hearts. Christ died for all, so we must be at the service of all. 'The Spirit God has given us is no cowardly spirit... Therefore, never be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord' (2 Tim 1:8)." (Pope John Paul II address at Oriole Park)
This is why we chose today's 2nd reading from Saint Paul's 2nd Letter to Timothy:
"The time will come when people will not tolerate sound doctrine but, following their own desires and insatiable curiosity, will accumulate teachers and will stop listening to the truth and will be diverted to myths" (2 Tim 4:3-4).
What we, as Catholics, believe, what Judy believed, is no myth - but a person - Jesus Christ. Pope Benedict put it this way in his 1st encyclical, Deus Caritas Est - God is Love: "Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives live a new horizon and a decisive direction."
That event, that person - Jesus Christ - is who we encounter in the Most Holy Eucharist - we encounter the Living God - the source of our life and are nourished and strengthened to live - not just an ethical norm - but for a person - THE person who gives our lives their meaning. Judy didn't fall in love with a mere ethical norm - but with Christ.
This is why Saint Paul's words to Timothy held such a strong place in Judy's life:
"I, Paul, charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching" (2 Tim 4:1-2).
Judy proclaimed the truth with her life and her joy. The children in her CCD class this past Sunday, reflecting on "Miss Judy" said this: "She was REAL." Yes she was! She was a REAL Catholic Christian. people were open to Judy and listened to Judy because she, herself, was convinced by the Truths of salvation revealed to us by Christ in the teachings of the Catholic Church - and she wanted ALL of us to be just as convinced. Look at her life:
- Preaching about Natural Family Planning is not convenient - especially when you have 9 children and have been pregnant a total of 15 times! But she and David did it - because it's the TRUTH.
- Convincing people that abortion takes the life of an innocent child is not an easy task in today's world that "no longer tolerates sound doctrine, but follows its own desires" (2 Tim 4:3) - not Christ's desires. This world has stopped listening to the Truth - but Judy never stopped proclaiming it.
- Teaching her family always to forgive - as Christ forgave from the cross - which leads this family, even now, to be echoing the words of Jesus: "Father, forgive them."
- Judy love the Holy Eucharist - because it is here in this tabernacle, in the monstrance at the adoration chapel, that we ourselves encounter the Living Christ who has triumphed over suffering and death - and so we are convinced and convicted of the Truth - which is Christ Himself.
- For the Jews in today's Gospel (John 6:51-58), Jesus' teaching on the Holy Eucharist - His True presence Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist- was too much.
- But He did not water down the Truth - but insisted that unless we eat His Flesh and drink His Blood we do not have life within us.
- It was Christ Himself who taught us what the Eucharist is - the Bread of Life that gives us eternal life - and His teaching has been handed on to us through 2000 years of Sacred Tradition - the Sacred "handing on" of Christ's teachings.
- Judy was wholly devoted to the Blessed Mother - not as a diversion from Christ, her Son, but as the gateway To Him.
- She saw Mary as the most faithful of Christ's disciples and lived the final words that the Sacred Scriptures put on Mary's tongue: "Do whatever He tells you."
- She never stopped speaking of the POWER of the Holy Rosary - "it's the most powerful prayer" - she would tell everyone - because it leads us to Christ Her Son.
In this Holy Mass, we pray not only for Dave and Theresa, Paul, Jess, James, Laura, Robert, Luke, Maria and Thomas - we pray not only for ourselves - we pray for Judy - just as we hear in our 1st reading from Maccabees, (2 Macc 12:43-46) we pray for the dead becuase we have the resurrection of the dead in view. And fror many, these prayers after death are the way that those souls, not yet perfected and purified, those souls in purgatory are aided as they are made ready to see God face-to-face.
There is no EARTHLY answer to our "why" - but if we look to God - to Christ Crucified, we discover that God entered into human existence, into human suffering and pain and mourning and even death itself - and took it upon Himself to REDEEM it - to make it the means to transforming our world - and, if we see beyond the answers this world gives, we see the doorway to eternal blessedness.
Our Lord did not shy away from suffering, but, rather, taking the ONE thing with which we can all identify (suffering), He wholly embraces it - He uses it as the means to our redemption. Today, each of us is being invited to enter through the narrow gate of suffering to discover that door to blessedness - and not only today, but in all the daily sufferings and struggles of life; because what we see on the cross does not end with His passion, suffering and death - but rather merely opens us up to the possibility of Eternal life.
This is what enables this family to be so strong - sorrowful, yes - but only for ourselves - not for Judy.
Judy's faith - our Catholic faith - is not about any emotional response - but about the Truth. Emotions (sorrow, suffering, joy) come and go. Only one thing remains: the Truth. Know the Truth! Know Jesus Christ! Follow Him! And you'll find out what made Judy, the woman that we love, you'll discover what made Judy the faith-filled woman she was.
The answer? Jesus Christ.
Praised be Jesus Christ. Now and forever. Amen.