A Lovely Homily

This is a homily given by my uncle, Fr. Stephen on occasion of a Commemorative Mass for his late friend. Found it very touching and thoughtful. Hence sharing it.


–  the enviable passing away of Fr Elias… living life to the full, and in harness till the end – an end that I would pray for myself…

– Let us begin this Mass with a moment or two in silent prayer thanking God for this wonderful person that we have known and loved, who touched our lives in unique ways, shared our company and made us grow…


… What do we do when we reminisce over a human life?

–  When we remember someone, we emphasize the good memories, and we celebrate…

–  A practice of the Mercy Sisters in the States that I always liked to attend – the ‘wake’ with the body of the deceased Sister in the Church or in a hall, sitting around with friends and family, just recalling and sharing incidents (mostly funny and thought provoking) about the deceased person – it was always a collective celebration of a life, and it always provided a sense of closure to a life in community that had touched so many other lives.

– It underlined the fact that every life is to be celebrated.

– It underlined the fact that, whether pauper or prince, bid daddy or a small fry, we are all headed to the same reward – death is a great leveller.

… In this context, I often think about the parable of the labourers in the vineyard

– The ones who get paid equal amounts regardless of their hours of work… points to the fact that we do not as yet have any idea of what God has in store for us; and, more importantly, that we do not earn it – ALL is grace!

– Over there on the other shore, I believe…

– Talents or lack of it don’t really matter;

– Colour certainly will not be an issue;

– Manmade categories of tribe and ethnicity definitely won’t find a place there;

– Power and positions and influence won’t mean a thing;

– Reward and punishment may not be after all so opposed to each other as here on earth…

… I guess we will need a new theology to think along those lines…

… How would I like to remember Fr Elias?

– with two images…

– The first in 1963 leading us early morning from Mawlai to the Cathedral on a cold wintry morning for the funeral mass for Fr Matha who had drowned at Raliang – we were the choir, and a good one at that. I can still recall him collecting the frost from the small wooden bridge in front of present St Anthony’s College and shoving it down our collars to make us walk fast and catch up with him…

– The last just two months ago at my birthday supper at Azara, relishing the dinner that we had, enjoying the light banter with the us and the Archbishop, and taking from me two recent books to read – he kept alive that habit of reading and updating himself to the end…

– and, with some vivid, pleasant and grateful memories…

– I remember him… as someone who touched my life in the most impressionable years and left an impact that has lasted a lifetime (I was just 12 when I came into contact with him… He had been ordained a year earlier and had just taken over as our Prefect of Studies). He is one of those persons that I thank God for… for bringing him into my life.

– I remember him… as someone in whom I saw an abundance of the type of talents that would stand me in good stead as a religious and a Salesian – cultured behaviour, pride in oneself, ability to inspire others (in music, on the play fields, in the classroom)…

I remember him… as someone who inspired me to excel in what I was good at, and try my hand at those things that I was deficient in… There were ample opportunities for both in Juniorate those days.

I remember him… as someone who kept telling me that there is more I could do than I was actually doing, who introduced me to the idea of tapping unrealized potential early in life.

I remember him… as someone who, even in his last years, made light of his ailments and aches and pains, and went about his tasks with an evident zest for life.

I remember him… as someone who, in these last years at Maligaon, would come over to Azara whenever we asked him to, to talk to us, to hear our confessions, to encourage us with our work and our dreams, to share a glass of wine and talk of the good old days. He seemed to enjoy doing that… the last time, as I said, was just three weeks before he died, towards the end of November.

… In brief, I thank God for having brought him into my life, leaving some footprints there…

and a concluding thought for ourselves

…. If we can celebrate a life once it has passed away, and feel good about it…

– Why is it that we are so reluctant to do that when persons are alive?

– Why is it that issues like positions and colour and ethnicity blind us to the basic human goodness that we all share?

– Why is it that we allow harsh judgements and criticisms to colour our relationships?

– Why is it that we nurse hurts, real and imagined, and allow them to poison our days and traumatize our nights?

– Why is it that we prefer to hide in the shadows and mutter under our breath rather than celebrate life and love in the light?

… Give it a thought…  may be we need a new theology for that too!

… or, may be just a change in vision and perspective?

2 thoughts on “A Lovely Homily

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Lee'yo, Shino Abraham. Shino Abraham said: A Lovely Homily by Fr Stephen. Uncle to @startonomics : Never seen such lovely oration. Very rare among Keralite priests http://t.co/1aCqxqH […]

  2. […]  you always come back for Leo – Met him through twitter ( @startonomics) His share of the Homily given by his uncle, on the death of his friend, is worth reading. As are a lot of his other […]

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