From Earthly to Divine — Funeral Homily for John Boehm, 85

By Fr. Victor Feltes

John’s family has told me about his many loves. How he has loved Sharon, to whom he was married for twenty-two years until her passing in 1981. How he has loved Maria, his wife these last twenty-six years. And how he has loved his family as a good Christian father who “always told you he loved ya.”

He loved any kind of music and any opportunity to sing. He commonly sang at funerals, and his fellow parishioners in church liked to sit near him to help make themselves sound better. He used to work all week and then proudly lead “Johnny’s Family Affair” every weekend. Then, each Sunday morning he would shepherd his family to St. Jude’s for Mass, followed by Sunday fun with the kids. John loved being a mechanic through six decades; taking things apart and putting them back together right. He also loved his motorcycles and (like his natural children) he would name them; including Grey Dog, Happy, Jolly, King, Silver Hawk, and others.

When he turned eighty, his family gifted him a bike. Since John’s balance had become rather poor, they bought him a three-wheeler. He loved riding it as much as he could, being outside enjoying the weather, touring around New Auburn and the surrounding countryside. Even a week before his death, he was talking about his desire to go riding again. He hoped to experience that familiar good anew and more deeply.

Now these various examples of John’s loves reflect the ambiguity of that word. “Love” is an equivocal term — not meaning the same exact thing every time it is used. John, of course, did not love music or his motorcycles in the same way that he loves his family or loves our God, and yet he loves them all. Similarly, the words we use to speak of God are true and yet remain mysterious.

The Holy Trinity gives us images and terms to reveal what the divine Persons are like; such as Father, Lord, King, Son, Shepherd, Lamb, Rock, Light, Judge, Advocate, Creator, and Savior. God’s inspired word identifies him as truly and perfectly Good, Loving, Holy, Just, and Merciful. At the same time, divine Fatherhood transcends earthly fatherhood, and God’s goodness far surpasses in quantity and quality, our human understanding and experiences of goodness.

These images and terms are analogies, likening the earthly to the divine. And in every instance, where some similarity is noted between God and his creatures there remains an even greater dissimilarity. We know something of goodness, but God is truly good and even better than we know.

Created things, the people and good things we know and love, all do reflect something of the divine. Our Triune God reveals himself to us as our Father, as the Church’s Spouse, and as our Brother in Christ, who will always tell us that he loves us. God is a mechanic, too; repairing things and putting them back together right. God delights in his children, and invites his family to join in his eternal song. And he leads us to worship, to fellowship, and to rest with him, calling each of us by name.

As St. John writes, “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. Beloved, we are God’s children now…” So even though there is sadness in life’s partings, we approach John’s death and our own deaths one day with consolation and hopeful expectation. For all created things, the people and things we know and love, reflect something true and good of our Creator and Savior. And if we cooperate with our Lord in grace and love and goodness, on the day of Resurrection, “we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: