The gift of life can never be taken away

Message from Father Ray Lawhead as recorded at the Regier funeral

For the past week there’s been a lot of stories in the news. Sad things. News that’s rocked the community, rocked the friends and family, anyone who knew Bill and Helene. Not nice news.
But I’m here to tell you that I have some news for you and it is good news. It’s not mine. I’m passing it on. Doing much the same as Bill and Helene did the way they lived their lives. The news is that Jesus Christ has a gift for us. Many gifts in fact. But Jesus Christ has given us a very special gift. He has given us the gift of eternal life. The gift of life.
As we face this horrendous act, this evil, what do you do? How do we respond? As Jesus would say, and as Bill and Helene would say, there is only one response to evil like this and that is love. We must cling to and share that which is far more powerful than the evil that we’ve seen. That love heals. Love builds. Love is what gave us their lives in the first place.
We know that as Jesus lived his life on this earth walking with his apostles, he spent His whole life teaching and preaching and showing by example what it means to love. What it means to treat each other as a brother, as a sister. To build up life. But he confronted evil. Ultimately, in the end, it was extreme evil. Evil that resulted in the death of the Son of God.
And yet we know that death did not end in tragedy. That the love of Jesus Christ conquers. The love of Jesus Christ overcame. And what’s going to give us the courage and hope and strength to overcome is the same thing. It is the love of Jesus Christ. It is the love that we share among ourselves.
That love reminds us that we are a people who live in hope. That we are a people who are not afraid of tomorrow, because we know that Jesus has made promises to us. That he has promised never to leave us but he has prepared a place for us. That he has elevated all of us to that of the family of God. By virtue of our baptism, He claimed kinship divine. That we are united with the author of life.
In the gospel reading we heard how Jesus talks about how we might have life and have it to the full. Now you think about having life, you think you’re either alive or you’re not. But we grow in our love as we grow in life. The more love we are able to share, the more love we are able to except from Jesus Christ. The more fully alive we will be, because the more free we will be. We won’t have the fears, the anxieties. And that freedom allows us to reach out to people. To help them to realize there’s good news out there. We need to share that good news.
Bill and Helene lived their lives by that. They were an example. Not just to their family – a tremendous example to their family – but an example to the whole community, anyone who got to know them. And this is what we are called to be.
The greatest memorial to Bill and Helene is not money or even how well a litergy is performed. It’s the love that you share in your hearts. The love for Christ. The love for each other. Learning to take what we share today and bring it into your life. And bring it into your workplace, into your homes. Make sure people know that there is something to smile about.
Not matter how evil something may seem, no matter how under stress you may be, when you wake up in the morning you can smile because Jesus Christ is with us. Jesus Christ walks with us. We are His family.
Another part of scripture talking about the shepherd is where he says, “My sheep hear my voice. My sheep know me.” Do you hear Jesus? Can you hear Him? He’s been speaking all week long in a very special way. His words of comfort and love have been pouring from all over.
The community, the greater community, has been that example, that reminder to us of the gift that Jesus has given us. The gift of family. Beyond relations, we are united in spirit.
Jesus is speaking. He is talking directly to every one of you. As he looks in your eyes he’s asking you and telling you, “Don’t be afraid. The gifts that I give are yours forever. The gift of life that I give you, the gift of life that I gave Bill and Helene, can never be taken away. Ever.”