Homilette for Monday, June 1, 2009

Memorial of St. Justin, martyr

(Tobit 1:3.2:1a-8; Mark 12:1-12)

A priest who was also a pastor was promoted to a position at the archdiocesan pastoral office. The job was full-time which meant that the priest had to give up his parochial responsibilities. When he told his mother of his promotion, his mother seemed disappointed. When the priest asked why, she responded, “How are you going to get to heaven if you don’t visit the sick and bury the dead?”

In the first reading today Tobit shows himself to be heaven-bound. He magnanimously takes the dead man off the street so that he may be properly buried. We can call him righteous because he takes pity on the suffering even after they die. He not only will open the ground to give proper respect to a corpse which housed an image of the divine maker but experiences sorrow just thinking about the poor man’s plight.

It is sometimes said that we attend funerals not for the dead but for their survivors. But this is not really the case. We participate in funerals for the sake of both the dead and the living. We pray that God will accept the dead into paradise, and we console the living that they are not alone in their loss.