I was asked if I could post the homily from Mass today. I’ve done my best at getting in writing the message delivered.
There is one thing that I have learned about the suffering, darkness, and pain of my own life. That one thing is that if I don’t speak of it, acknowledge it, and even reverence it, it will always have power over me. Pain, suffering, and darkness have a way of attaching themselves to shame and guilt like none other, leaving us with this irrational thought that no one else will understand. However, I think of the great saints like Mother Theresa who we only learned later suffered greatly in life and often felt trapped in darkness. But as a person of faith and as people of faith, we must look elsewhere; we must look for hope in the midst of our own darkness and despair.
There’s a great challenge on a day like this, knowing that this young man took his own life. It’s hard to find hope and light. The pain is raw and seems to hit us in front of our faces. We are left with the questions of why. I have done many funerals over the years but in particular three teenagers. I can’t tell you much about the others, but I remember quite well the details of each of those deaths. It’s different with someone so young. They have their whole life ahead of them. We can’t stop asking the “why” questions…why would someone do this? Why didn’t he get help? Why did he think this was the way out? Why, why, why? But when I met with the family at the police station last week and we talked about those questions, we, as human beings, try to make something rational that is very irrational. We’re trying to make sense out of something that will never make sense. We’re trying to answer questions that will never have an answer, and quite honesty, often only lead to greater darkness.
Now I know it’s different with teenagers. I’ve worked with you long enough to have some idea of how things work. Quite honestly, you don’t have the experience all the time to know that there is something beyond the darkness and pain. It’s right in front of our faces and it seems as if we’re at the end of our rope with no where to turn. What I want to say to you today is that this is not the answer to life’s problems, to life’s darkness, and to what seems hopeless at times. I’m going to challenge you today that if you are experiencing darkness in your life, seek out help. Seek out someone that can really listen and reverence the darkness in your life. Seek out someone that will love you regardless of what makes your heart ache. If you don’t know someone, seek me out and I will point you in the direction that you need to deal with whatever may be hurting.
The most important message, as people of faith, is what Paul tells us today in his letter to the Romans. Nothing, not even the darkest thing we can imagine or face in life, nothing that hurts us so great, nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of Christ. Nothing! And although the choice Max made is not the answer, and we see that in the hurt that it leaves us with, but not even this can separate us from God. As a matter of fact, this is exactly where God wants to meet us. God wants to meet us in the mystery of life and death. We can’t avoid death, but even death doesn’t separate us from the love of God. This is where we find consolation today. This is where we find our hope today and in the days and weeks ahead as we continue to grieve and wonder and question. God is present in the midst of it all and if we’re open, we will catch glimpses of it.
And so we gather here today, to yes, thank God for the life given to Max. We gather here today seeking hope and consolation for our hurting hearts, filled with questions and doubts. I too have agonized over this the past week because there are no answers and we don’t always know what to day, especially under these circumstances. We gather here today, to remember, nothing separates us from the love of God. To his peers and to those who may find themselves in a dark place today and at this moment, seek help; seek the help that will lead to life from someone that will listen and accept. A God who becomes flesh shows us the way to speak the words, share our story, reverence our hurts, pain, and darkness, and in time, it loses it’s power over us. God wants us to live and to seek out life in all that we do. If we haven’t done that with the best of choices, we have hope in a God that isn’t separate and a God that always loves. Nothing, no pain or hurt is too great, to separate us from God. In faith, we seek our hope through Paul’s words today, in the spoken word, that gives us true power, a love that never ends and that nothing in this life will ever separate us from God of life and love.