There is a phrase from Erma Bombeck that I quote often in homilies, so you may have heard it used before, but I use it because it is really a great line. She says, “When I stand before the Lord at the end of my life, I hope to not have a single bit of talent left and I can say I used everything you have given me.” This line applies to many of us, our lives what we have done or what we hope to do. To give everything of ourselves for others. This too can be said about grandma’s life and all that she has done over the years.
The readings we have heard today remind us of a few things, the first reading from the Book of Wisdom begins by reminding us that , “The souls of the just are in the hands of the Lord and no torment shall touch them. Like Gold tested in the fire he proved them…. Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones, and his care is with his elect.” Our second reading reminds us of the place that the Lord has prepared for each of us. Even if our “earthly dwelling should be destroyed we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” Lastly we hear in our Gospel passage the last line of the “Father will honor whoever served me.” The Lord honors those who serve and follow Jesus.
Each of these passages, each of these lines from Scripture serve as a reminder to us of both how we should live our lives, but also of the rewards promised to us if we do this. If we were to look at the life of Grandma we can see many parallels, to her own life of service. While much of Grandma’s early life is a mystery, even when we have each tried to find out about it, there are some things that we do know, we think. Born January 27, 1928 in Ballandine, County Mayo. Coming to the United States at about 18 years of age. Meeting up with and falling in love with Grandpa. Spending the rest of her years as a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend to many. Grandma lived a good life.
She raised her children well. Even if the stories that my fathers tell us about their childhood antics are true or not the you turned out okay in the end. She loved her family and was always so proud of each of you and your accomplishments as her family grew her she was even prouder of each of us and of all our accomplishments. Anytime you spoke to her on the phone even if it was for the two minutes and thirty seconds we might be able to keep her on the phone. She always had some news to pass on or share about what someone in the family has done. And if you actually managed to talk to grandma for more than 5 minutes at least for some of the grandkids you had to know that something truly special was going on in her life.
The love she had, the care grandma had for each of us was amazing. Each of us has a story or maybe a tall tale about grandma we like to remember. Maybe it’s the time she rode home to her house on the back of Dad’s motorcycle, the story of grandma and her one handed vacuuming skills, the food she cooked, etc. We all have a memory that we will hold on to.
We also know of Grandma’s faith and devotion, up until the end her prayer, her desire to go to mass, all of those things are also part of her life. I do feel bad I was never able to get that bucket of Holy Water for Grandma so she could continue blessing everything she owned, I am sure she forgives me.
The passages we have heard today all build up in the end to the promise that the Lord has given to each of us in our lives. If we live a good, holy life. If we follow the commandments and what scripture tells us. A place has been prepared for each of us. A dwelling place our reward. Even until the very end of her life Grandma knew this, and held on to it. She was as ready as anyone for being called home to the Lord. When she was told that the cancer had come back and spread, she began planning for the next stages of her life. Where and who was going to say the funeral, what songs she wanted sung, what she wanted on her prayer cards. Prepared for the next step on her journey.
Truly for grandma we know where she has gone, where her soul has gone. We know that she can stand before the Lord and say “I have used all of the talent” you have given me, even if sometimes that talent was to cause some mystery or trouble in the family. She did use everything given to her. But we do she is in the arms of the Lord, she is with grandpa, but most especially know how proud she is of each and every single one of you and that she will continue watching over us, even though she is gone.