Keating – In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places


Funeral of Rose Marotta
Church of Saint Monica
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
March 9, 2018

James R. Keating, O.S.A.

John 14: 1-6

“In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.”

On behalf of the parish community of St. Monica, I would like to (once again) extend our sincerest condolences and sympathy to the members of Rose’s family. I would like to assure you of our continued remembrance of Rose in our thoughts, prayers and Masses in the days, weeks, months, and even the years ahead. For whenever we gather together as a community of faith to celebrate the Eucharist–whether it is a simple liturgy during the week or a more solemn celebration on Sunday–one thing we always do is to remember in a very special way our faithfully departed and their families.

Whenever we lose a person dear to us–a person who has played a significant role in our lives–we are flooded with all types of emotions. The first emotion we experience is sadness. Someone we love is no longer present with us and no matter what we do, we can’t change that fact. We might also feel a sense of guilt. None of us ever has a perfect relationship with a loved one. When that person passes on to her eternal reward, we may feel guilty about some of the things we said or did to her; or the time when we lost our temper with her. Often we are left with the feeling that we did not let Rose know just how much she was loved. We might also a feel a bit angry–angry at God for having taken her from us. We may wonder why God has done this to us. We may ask why God is inflicting on us so much pain. Perhaps our anger is made worse by the feeling that it is not right or proper for a believing Roman Catholic to feel anger at God. So, we try to suppress our feelings, but no matter how hard we try to do that, our anger is still there.

All these emotions and feelings are normal and are part of our grieving process. But as Roman Catholics, we believe that people like Rose, who leave this world as faithful followers of Our Lord, are with Jesus. For her, life has merely changed, it has not ended. She is now with Jesus, His Blessed Mother and all the Saints–especially St. Rita, to whom she was so devoted. She is now enjoying the presence of family and friends who have preceded her in death.

Near the end of Jesus’s life on earth, He spoke to his disciples these very comforting words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me also. In my Father’s house, there are many dwelling places…” Many of us work very hard in life to build a house and make a home for ourselves and for our families. But no matter how hard we work, no matter how large or small our houses, those structures are never our permanent homes. The structures we build to live in are only temporary dwelling places. Death reminds us of this. Death reminds us that there is no final resting place in this world. Even the grave is temporary. Funeral directors perhaps unintentionally emphasize the temporary nature of the grave by referring to burial as an “internment.” Internment means “being in-between” – being in between this life and the life to come. We always will be people in waiting–waiting for our final resting place. What Jesus wants us to realize is that He is the only way to the place He is preparing for us. As He told Thomas: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” We live in the hope that when our earthly pilgrimage is done, we will be at home with God forever. Only an intimate and eternally secure relationship with God can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. St. Augustine’s understanding of this truth led him to write in his Confessions, “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”

While we are truly saddened over the passing from this life of Rose, our faith reassures us that the sadness that we are now experiencing will–in time–be not just changed, but will be transformed into joy because Rose, like Jesus, has died, but she has died into Resurrection. Even now as we continue to celebrate her funeral liturgy, she is enjoying the fullness of God’s presence and will continue to enjoy that fullness forever. Amen.