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Funeral Homily for Linden Swart - Fr John's Homilies

  1. Eliezer Wiesel was a fourteen-year-old boy living in Sighet, Transylvania, at the start of World War II. Transported with his father to the Auschwitz Concentration camp, Eliezer saw many executions, and the victims, having already lost their capacity for emotion, never cried.

 

  1. Only once did the jaded, dried-up prisoners weep at an execution. An Oberkapo and his pipel (a young boy who acted as his assistant) who everyone liked, were suspected of blowing up a power plant on camp, but they refused, despite torture, to give any information about it.

 

  1. The 13 year old little boy, who had the face of a sad angel, was sentenced to be hanged. The prisoner who usually served as executioner refused to perform his task and had to be replaced by an SS officer.

 

  1. When it came time for the execution, the child said nothing, and the whole camp observed in silence.

 

  1. Since the child was so light, he didn't die immediately when he fell, and he remained alive, hanging for half an hour. All the prisoners wept that day, and one man kept asking where God was.
  1. The harrowing scene of the child’s murder symbolically enacts the murder of God. Eliezer comes to believe that a just God must not exist in a world where an innocent child can be hanged on the gallows.

 

  1. “Where is He?” Eliezer asks rhetorically, and then answers, “He is hanging here on this gallows.”

 

  1. Today we have come together to mourn our own loss. While the immediate family will probably notice the loss more physically, each one of us, recognized by our attendance here, will also mourn in our own way.

 

  1. But we do not mourn as those without hope; those without faith. We mourn with the full assurance because it was Jesus who told us, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

 

  1. As a Heavenly Father, God already knows what his children are feeling, he felt it too as his Son was on the cross.

 

  1. As the All-knowing God, he already knows what we’re thinking, because the Bible says that his Spirit witnesses to ours, in short, he mourns our loss too.

 

  1. And as the Ever-present God, he already knows what we’re experiencing, through the life, death, and resurrection, of his Son, Jesus Christ, God has experienced all that there is to experience. He’s been there.

 

  1. In fact, in the Old Testament we find Scriptures that say,

 

  1. “The eternal God is our dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms.

 

  1. “The Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and SAVES the crushed in spirit.”

 

  1. “The Lord heals the broken-hearted, and binds up their wounds. Great is our Lord, and abundant in power, whose understanding is beyond all measure.”

 

  1. In short God tells us that at we are not alone this morning, but that God, himself, is here with us. And since he is, we can mourn, we can be honest with what we’re feeling, and we can remember Linten as he was, as we take this moment turning to God, ALLOWING him to comfort us in his memory.