The Heavenly Choir Has A New Baritone
As Tess so wonderfully titled today’s service, it is indeed a “Celebration of the Life of Brian J. O’Neill.” It is a celebration of the completion of his life’s journey, begun in the Love of God, created through the love of his parents and ending once again in the Love of God, completed through the love of Jesus Christ.
And so, we gather today in sadness and sorrow. Sadness for the loss of a good and faithful husband, father, son, brother, uncle, coworker, and friend. Sorrow for the O’Neill family as we share in their grief, wishing to be able to console, searching for words to convey feelings that are
incapable of being put into words.
Still, we don’t despair. For we know that in death we are NOT defeated. God our Father, through His Son Jesus Christ, and with the power of the Holy Spirit has put an end to death and restored to us, to mankind, the promise of eternal life! Through Baptism Brian received that promise. Throughout his life he was strengthened and nourished by the Sacraments of our Church, a Church that he loved and in which he participated fully.
Through Brian the Word of God came alive, not only at Mass, where he served so ably and often as a lector, but through the way he lived his life, and how he treated others. In the 24 years that I’ve know Brian, I can’t recall EVER hearing an unkind word spoken toward, or about, someone else. Rather, he was intelligent, humorous, kind, compassionate, and giving. He didn’t wear his accomplishments “on his sleeve”, for others to marvel at. No, there was no room, because that is where he wore his love for others.
There is no doubt that Brian’s marriage to Tess was truly a sacrament, lived daily through the joys and sorrows, triumphs and setbacks, highs and lows, but lived always with, and in, love. In this, too, Brian, and Tess, brought the Word of God to life for all to witness.
Today in John’s Gospel our Lord speaks of a house with many “dwelling places”, or rooms. Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to prepare a place for them. One of those places is prepared for his disciple, Brian. Christ calls all of us to have faith in Him. Brian showed us how to live in that faith.
In the Gospel of Matthew, speaking of when He comes again in glory, Jesus says, “Then the king will say to those on his right, (the righteous) ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
It is to a dwelling place in this kingdom that we commend Brian today. It is, hopefully, through his example that we will go forward, trying ourselves to live life, love life, and love God and our neighbor, as Brian did, with grace, and good humor, but most of all, with love.