“..when we were baptised in Christ Jesus, we were baptised in his death. We went into the tomb with him, & joined him in death., so that as Christ was raised from the dead, we too might have new life.” “..he is not here, he has Risen! “ the redeeming message of an angel on the morning of the first Resurrection echoes across our graveyard this morning as we gather, not to mourn the death of our loved ones whose earthly remains rest here, but to celebrate their Resurrection.. “he/she is not here..he/she has Risen! Alleluia “”
we begin the month of July with Mass in the graveyard & we will end the month four months today with the baptism of two young cousins of ours at our 10am Mass..their new life forever wedded to the new life of our Risen loved ones.. ..our Church at Leyland in Lancashire is same shape slightly smaller than the round wigwam shape of Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral..in the impressive entrance lobby of our Church there is a strikingly different baptismal font..at entrance to Church to symbolise entry into the faith community..in middle of granite entrance area is a pit the shape of a grave with steps going down into it..& down there is the baptismal font & paschal candle..the baby is baptised in the tomb & is brought up to new life in the community as if in a Resurrection moment..
..for the times we mournfully try to unpick, unthread, the weave between life & death, accepting one with joy & the other with terror, let us ask the Risen Christ for his mercy & forgiveness.. “we believe that having died with Christ we shall return to life with him” .. a promise to believe in ..; Lord have mercy “death has no power over them any more” .. a promise to believe in.. ; Christ have mercy “their life now is life with God..” ..a promise to believe in.. ; Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
..a typical Matthew gospel..clinically black & white, no wriggle room no compromise.. me [ Jesus] first..anyone or anything else in your life second..the imperatives to take up the Cross, & follow in his footsteps, in the one right direction, at the one shown length of stride in my footstep, welcoming strangers prophets & little ones, because he/ she has that spiritual DNA that unique divine fingerprint & footprint that was gifted to us billions of years ago by our divine lover & creator, is authenticated revalidated time & time again.. mistake tragedy crisis afer mistake tragedy crisis, each day in each & every good work we do in Christs name with his thumbprint all over it..every cup of water, every 5p piece you put into our charity jar to help educate Christ in need & in person in a young girl of school age in Zimbabwe who can now go to school next year because of your 5p piece.. “he / she you will most certainly not lose your reward “..& when not if you get to heaven one of first people to come up to you to tap you on shoulder & offer you words of a lifetime will be the young girl “my name is Joy ;thank you for praying for me, for your love & for your 5p piece..welcome!” ..beneath every gravestone in our graveyard there is a disciple & their story, of the times when, in midst of mistake crisis & tragedy they responded self sacrificially generously whole heartedly to the presence & need of Christ in person..in 1986 when I was ordained priest Fr Abbot appointed me to be priest in charge of our Chapel of Ease in Gilling East.. a weekend commitment alongside my other role as Estate Surveyor..two stalwarts of our parish community were Mary & Michael Lorigan..Michael taught at Gilling Castle, Mary worked in a solicitors office in Helmsley..they lived in the Lodge attached to the Church.. they vividly remembered the Abbey purchasing what was then the Village Reading Room which became the Chapel of Our Lady & the Holy Angels..Mary was there on her hands & knees as it was washed & readied to become a sacred space..four novices were sent across from the Abbey to help clean it, one being Br Kieran soon to become your beloved Fr Kieran..Irish met Irish..an eternal bond..when I arrived we had an ancient harmonium which Michael played with gusto as poor Mary worked the bellows with a large wooden paddle of a handle to provide the wind..soon we bought an electric keyboard complete with synthesizer..& Michael took to it like a duck to water..he called it “the contraption” ..& a Gilling Parish speciality was that after Sunday Mass there was a breakfast rota of families who would have the priest to breakfast..a whole range of offerings depending on whose home you went to..the 5* was at the Lodge where Mary cooked a meal for a king ..cereal then a full cooked breakfast with potato cakes, toast marmalade & coffee..& good lively joyous conversation & craic as they chuckled in true Irish fashion.. & now four five times a week as I go through our graveyard en route to our Primary School I pass Mary &Michaels grave..a moment of profound & grateful remembrance.. “..anyone who welcomes a holy man because he is a holy man will have a holy man’s reward”..indeed exemplary disciples self sacrificial loving service..people, like many in our graveyard with whom we celebrate this morning, putting my prayer & my service to shame with their generous joyful & loving apostolate.. ..just a fortnight ago today the Catholic Church celebrated a Day for Life..to pray with & for all at each stage of life from the womb to the grave..& this morning beyond the grave to the Resurrection..we will pray Our Lady’s prayer with our local saints..our beloved loved ones now in heaven.. O Mary, Mother of the Life Within, all life we entrust to you; the life of every expectant mother & the child within her womb; the life of every human body, the life of every human soul ; the life of every newborn child & the life of all grown old. You held the Lord to your own heart & drew him so close in. So draw us now in all our needs, O Mother of the Life Within. Amen.