Funeral of Clem Rethman: Monday, June 16, 2008  “All who eat this bread will live forever, and I will raise them up on the last day.”

Homily for the funeral of Clem Rethman

Monday, June 16, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

Although death has been with mankind throughout history, and although death is an expected end of everyone of us, we can never get used to it, welcome it, or accept it when it finally comes. This difficulty gets even more intense when we factor in, age, the manner of death, conditions and circumstances surrounding the death of our loved one.

Though natural and expected, death is always painful simply because of it's irreversibility. Just the thought that one can no longer behold the face of the loved one from now on, is heart renting.

Console yourself, nevertheless, with the word of God in this difficult time. Only the Word of God can console us sufficiently by giving us the right perspective of things regarding this death and loss of our loved one.

In the Gospel Our Lord says that all who eat the bread that he will give will live forever because he will raise all who eat the bread. This is in reference to the Eucharist we receive at every Mass and nothing else. He clearly says that that bread is his flesh for the life of the world.

Even when the Jews protested this statement of giving his flesh as bread for the world, Our Lord rather than back off insisted and emphasized all the more using a swear word, "Amen, Amen, (which means Truly, Truly) I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life in within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” Our Lord insists that the Eucharist, in which we eat his real flesh and drink his real blood, is absolutely necessary for Eternal Life. Even when the Jews leave him over this claim, Our Lord does not back off from it. That's how necessary for our salvation the Eucharist is. Our Lord sticks to his word and in fact solemnly swears over it like we do in court with our hand on the Bible, that what we say is nothing but the literal truth.The reason the Eucharist is that essential for our rising to eternal life is because when we receive the Eucharist, our life and Our Lord's life are mingled into one so that, as St. Paul says, “No longer I live but Christ lives in me.” The Eucharist unites us so much and so intimately that we can say, as St. Paul again in  the Second Reading from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans (14: 7-9; 10-12) says, “If we live we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord; so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's.”

APPLICATION:

Now, all this, Clem did. He not only believed in the true and real presence of Our Lord, both flesh and blood, (that is, totally; body, soul and divinity), but he also ate Our Lord's flesh and food indeed, and drank Our Lord's blood as drink indeed. This way Clem Rethman was united intimately with Our Lord. He was identified with the Lord by his reception of the Eucharist so much that we can say in St. Paul's words, “whether he lived or died, either way, it didn't matter, he was the Lord's, because Christ lived in him.”Not only that, Clem was united with Our Lord in and through his own (Clem's) sufferings. The pain and suffering he endured, Clem was as St. Paul says in the letter to the Colossians (1: 24): “Even now I find my joy in the suffering I endure for you. In my own flesh I fill up (complete) what is lacking (remaining) in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.” As St. Paul did penance for the sake of the Church, our sufferings, if born appropriately with the understanding that they represent our own share of the redemptive sufferings of Our Lord.Clem also was united with Christ through the Sacrament of Anointing.

I was glad to hear from Fr. Mike Koller that a day before Clem expired, Fr. Mike gave him the Sacrament of Anointing. This fulfills what the Apostle James says, “If anyone among you is suffering hardship, he must pray . . . Is there anyone sick among you? He should ask for the priest of the church. They in turn are to pray over him, anointing him with oil in the Name of the Lord. This prayer uttered in faith will reclaim the one who is ill. If he has committed any sins, they will be forgiven.”

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