Father Dan Tormey’s moving homily at this afternoon’s (April 18) funeral liturgy for Robert Joynt, M.D., did good things for many people. This reflection on the Easter story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus certainly brought consolation and encouragement to Margaret, Bob’s wife of 58 years, to their children and all of their family.
I am quite sure that he also helped all of us who were present at the liturgy to deal with a couple of issues that, however we might describe them, touch all of our lives. I would name them our constant thirst for deeper life and the awareness of our own mortality. I know that he helped me by shoring up my faith that we who die with Christ will rise with him on the last day. Dan’s kind words led me to renew a prayer that for years has been in and out of the lives of many of us: Lord, I believe, please help my unbelief.
Dan’s words linked me not only to the Joynt family and all of the others who joined in that beautiful act of worship, but to another group with whom Dan and I had both spent the last couple of days. I refer to all of our priests and pastoral administrators who had assembled for our annual convocation.
In view of the change in leadership that we will be experiencing in our diocese in the months ahead, we gathered under the theme "Changing Times and a Changing Church." In that assembly we received some helpful input from Ed Hahnenberg Ph.D., a lay professor of theology at John Carroll University. Ed encouraged us to be in touch with and to celebrate the gifts we enjoy, to be mindful of our history, and to entrust our concerns to the love and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
In my session with all of those coworkers I tried to encourage them against the backdrop of the same Emmaus story, first to reflect on all of the challenges they have faced in this sometimes very difficult era in church history, and second to celebrate the wonderful things they have accomplished in those same years.
I primed that pump a bit by naming what I consider to be some of their major accomplishments. They responded by naming with their own voices some of those good works — always in their own words and always naming the Lord’s grace and the goodness of the community as the foundation of all.
The funeral and the convocation each in its own way was a beautiful invitation to imitate the Easter experience of the disciples on the road. We remembered the words and works of the Lord. We share our stories with sisters and brothers. We know the healing, life-giving touch of the Risen One.
For all of that I thank Dan and all of my sisters and brothers at the funeral liturgy and at the convocation.
I hope that the road you are travelling during these days of the Easter season allows you opportunity both to share your story of faith with your companions on the journey and to hear theirs. When that happens the Lord is always there.
Peace to all.