Homily for the funeral of Karen Burman June 07, 2013
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Matthew: When Jesus saw the crowds he went up the mountain, and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him.
He began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
The Gospel of the Lord
We gather to remember Karen, bringing so many memories. We also gather to grieve over the untimely and tragic loss of this woman who was in some ways bigger than life: with her floppy hats, her expressive, out-going personality, her walker that seemed to connect with everything in its vicinity. And we gather to pray, in thanksgiving for her life, for the privilege of having known her. And more, we pray that God will be merciful to her and welcome her into the presence of the Savior she so loved and honored, Jesus Christ.
Karen did not have an easy life. She was beset by demons, voices, feelings and compulsions that troubled her. But she always sought help. Whenever we priests saw Karen coming we knew she would have a request. But what she wanted was just a little of our time, and a hug, and a blessing – either for herself, or for some of her many religious articles, or for some combination of the two. It was not a big request, but it helped her cope. And while I was often in a hurry and felt a little inconvenienced, I also could not help but sense that spending a little time listening, and hugging, and blessing, made me better. Karen had that effect.
In the Gospel for this funeral Mass Jesus teaches us: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” The poor in spirit are not the materially poor, though many of them are, but rather those who know their need of and dependence on God. Karen certainly knew that. She was aware, probably more than many of us, of just how utterly and totally dependant we are upon God’s grace. In this she was blessed, Jesus tells us. And now – according to His word - the Kingdom of heaven is hers.
“Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” we are taught. Karen mourned, burdened by her afflictions, beset by her demons. We pray that now she is truly comforted by the Lord who promised her comfort.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.” Karen could come on strong, and did not let disappointments discourage her. But she was also meek, in that she was always most accepting of the Lord’s Will for her. Now she inherits the land.
“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, - Blessed are the merciful,
- Blessed are the clean of heart, - Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”
Karen lived these in one way or another. Now, our faith tells us, she is truly a child of God. Not by her doing, but by God’s free gift in Jesus Christ. It is a gift offered to every one of us here.
Still we grieve. Our hearts go out to her family, to her good friend and companion Stanley, to all who love and miss Karen. Death remains a mystery we cannot explain away. But we do come seeking peace. Peace for Karen, peace for ourselves. The peace that Jesus promised to give us.
And we look forward to the day when we will be reunited with Karen, and all our departed loved ones, when there will be no more tears and no more goodbyes.