The Meticulous Leveler — Funeral Homily for David Zwiefelhofer, Sr., 93

On behalf of St. John the Baptist Parish, I wish to express our sympathies to you at David’s passing. At 93 years old, he is among our parish’s longest, faithful members. Today, St. John’s is honored to offer our greatest prayer, the Holy Mass, to aid his eternal soul on his journey, and to aid your souls on the path ahead of you. If you are one of David’s siblings, children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or great grandchildren, you have known him your entire life. Perhaps it is hard for you to imagine life without him. I know I can’t tell you much more about David’s life than you already know well. And no funeral homily could capture the fullness of a person. But the facets of a faithful Christian’s life will the reflect mysteries of Christ.

One of the interesting things I learned about David is his being a skilled excavator. He had a reputation for being the best bulldozer operator around. Even in retirement, people called upon the Brahma Bull to bulldoze for their projects. David is a perfectionist, attentive to detail. He possessed the uncanny ability to know—without instruments—when a plowed surface was level. “That’s not level,” an onlooker might say. They couldn’t convince him, or course. And when the surface was measured, David would be proven right. I was also surprised to learn that his line of work once nearly killed him. While David was operating his machine through a deep trench, a dirt wall collapsed and sand flowed in around him from the side like water. His coworkers rushed in to keep the sand away from his head so he could breathe, and they dug him out, saving his life.

We can see some of Jesus Christ being reflected through David. Realize that Jesus is very meticulous, too. We are his handiwork, and he cares a great deal about his work. Jesus’ insistence on his teachings is not mere human stubbornness. Our Lord knows that he knows what he is talking about. Jesus is a skilled leveler, making our neighbors as important as ourselves, even declaring that any good or evil done to them will one day be judged as having been done to him. Jesus’ profession and work put his life on the line for us; he was buried but rose again from the earth. In life and death, we are called to follow Christ. We must follow him, that we may share in his victory.

In the words of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, in accord with the New Testament proclamation of St. John the Baptist, our patron:

Every valley shall be filled
and every mountain and hill shall be made low.
The winding roads shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth,
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.

The ways of the just the Lord makes smooth, path of the just he makes level, if we would only hand him the keys, and allow him bulldoze and level in our lives whatever he must. Jesus’ current project in our world is great and beautiful: building “a new heaven and a new earth.” And he desires and invites you, his beloved, to be a part of it. By God’s grace, may David, you, and I inherit the Kingdom Christ has been preparing for his people from the foundation of the world.

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