The Communion of Saints — Funeral Homily for Sylvester Berres, 91

By Fr. Chinnappan Pelavendran

On behalf of the parish of St. Paul’s, I would like to extend our sympathy to the friends of Sylvester. He will be remembered in our thoughts, prayers, and Masses. Whenever we gather together, as a community of faith to celebrate the Eucharist, we always remember our faithfully departed.

Sylvester’s friends will remember him as a prayerful, quiet, and gentleman. He was faithful to the daily Masses when he was able. He came frequently because he wanted to receive the Lord in the Eucharist and knew that he was not alone and that Jesus was with him. Sylvester invited me through Mr. Mark Bischel to his nursing home to hear his confession two weeks ago. He probably knew that it would be his last confession. I feel that he made a very good confession and now he is in Heaven with God.

In the first reading from the Book of Wisdom, we are told that “the souls of the just are in the hands of God. They are in peace because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.” The Lord is Sylvester’s shepherd and no more will he walk in the valley of darkness, because he walks with the Lord.

In today’s second reading, “No one lives for himself. For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord.” Sylvester lived his life for the Lord, died in the Lord, and now lives with the Lord.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus spoke about a grain of wheat that falls to the ground and dies, and produces much fruit, it has served its purpose. When a believer is faithful to God, God remains close to them. Sylvester was a good example, he was alone and must have been lonely sometimes but because he was close to God, he was comforted by God.  Because he was alone, Sylvester is a good example for us to follow when we are feeling alone or depressed.

When we die, life is changed not ended. We remember people when they die and pray for them. We can also ask them to pray for us. This keeps us close to them and we will think of them frequently. The people of the Church are in three areas: the Saints in Heaven, the souls in Purgatory, and those of us still living here on earth. We believe that all are united around Jesus’ Cross and Resurrection.

In the Apostles’ Creed, we profess our faith: “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting.” The living and the dead are united by praying for each other. This is the communion of saints that we profess we believe in during the Apostles’ Creed. I believe in the communion of saints. Believing in the communion of saints, believing that life is changed not ended, we pray for Sylvester.

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