|The Prodigal Son (Orthodox Icon)|
Yesterday afternoon I attended the funeral of a neighbor—a 80-something-year-old man, and a very kind and good person. I didn’t know the priest who celebrated the Funeral Mass, the only thing I know about him is what he said about himself in his homily, namely, that he is 74 and that in the long-ago he had lived in that parish, that he was a lifelong friend of the man and his family, and that he was familiar with most of those attending the ceremony.
It was one of the craziest, most unpredictable and memorable homilies I had ever heard. He talked in spurts—as many basically shy but very intelligent people often do—with sudden and vivid flashes of lightning, so to speak, rather than complete sentences, as if he was trying to say something pretty profound and at the same time a bit too difficult to put in words. So he danced around the issue the whole time without saying anything explicitly “religious.” He talked about “backing home”—his own’s and his friend’s. He talked about friendship, work ethic, dedication to the family, but the true meaning of the whole speech was, “hey, your friend, husband, father, etc., isn’t really dead, because he simply can’t die..” He was uttering the most touching and profound Christian truths without ever appearing to do so. A homily full of faith and hope without ever pronouncing the words “faith” and “hope,” as if there were no need to explicitly mention what everyone already intimately knows. Because hey, you folks know how things really are.., don’t you?
A poet, a humble but great man, a street philosopher and a man of God. I regret not having the opportunity to listen to his homilies every Sunday, but thank God for having had the chance to listen to him yesterday.