The Great Restoration — Funeral for Donald “Don” Sokup, 76

Today, St. John the Baptist Parish is humbled, honored, and pleased to be able to offer our greatest prayer, the Holy Mass, for Don’s soul. We earnestly hope that our prayers will be a blessing to him, and a consolation to you, who know and love him best. A life like Don’s has many, many parts. And no brief funeral homily can examine or present them all. But just as you can look at a machine and draw some conclusions about the engineer who designed it, so parts of our lives can reflect truths of our Maker.

In the June/July 1996 issue of Gas Engine Magazine, a publication dedicated to “preserving the history of internal combustion engines,” there was an article entitled “Titan with a Top.” It was authored and submitted by a gas engine enthusiast from Elk Mound, Wisconsin: a Mr. Don Sokup. The titular Titan was a tractor, a 10-20 Titan tractor, manufactured in 1918. When Don found it, it was broken, buried, and decayed; the head of the engine had been buried in dirt for who knows how long. Most people said it would never run again, but Don believed he could restore it. This first picture is what it looked like, unearthed but dead.

After a year of hard labor,” Don wrote, “she came back to life and now purrs like a kitten. In the photo [below], you can see what a difference all my hard work made.” Don noted, “the top [the new red roof] is my own invention.” His resurrected and restored tractor was made greater and more glorious than it had been before. This is what our divine maker and restorer desires to do with each of us.

As our first reading from the Book of Wisdom says:

“The souls of the just.. seemed, in the view of the foolish, to be dead; and their passing away was thought an affliction and their going forth from us, utter destruction. But they are in peace… and their hope full of immortality…”

Jesus declares to us in our Gospel:

“This is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day.”

We heard St. Paul teach the Romans:

“If we have grown into union with him through a death like his, we shall also be united with him in the resurrection. … [If] we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.”

May the words of our psalm today be our prayer, for Don and for ourselves:

“Preserve my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
Because I wait for you, O Lord.”

As we commend Don’s soul to Jesus, entrust yourself to our good Lord as well, so that in Christ’s Resurrection we may all be gloriously restored and happily reunited one day.

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