Chicago Studies Fall/Winter 2023

Page 64

Funeral Homily for The Reverend Martin Zielinski By Rev. Lawrence Hennessey, S.T.L., Ph.D.

(Scripture Readings: Wisdom 3:1-6, 9 / Romans 8:18-25 / Luke 24:13-35) Dear Chris and Steve and Kate, Dear Family, Dear Friends, My Dear Sisters and Brothers: This morning, we offer this Eucharist in memory of Fr. Martin Zielinski, and in prayerful petition for God’s limitless mercy and unconditional love. We do this in faith, in hope, in love. We do it with full awareness that nothing can make up for the absence of someone we love. In fact, we know it would be wrong to try and find a substitute—as if that were even possible! This morning, we simply hold out our loss, and see it through. This sounds very hard, perhaps even harsh, at first; but at the same time, it is a great consolation. The holy space of Fr. Marty’s absence, as long as it remains unfilled, preserves the bonds of life and love between us. God dwells in this holy space, but He doesn’t fill it. In fact, God’s presence keeps it empty, and so helps us keep alive our communion with Fr. Marty and with each other—even at the cost of our pain. This is our faith. And so, in hope, we give thanks; in love, we remember. In the beautiful story we have just heard, St. Luke reminds us of the difficulty we all have in coming to understand the reality and meaning of our Lord Jesus’s resurrection. Here are two close disciples of His, who had heard Him preach, saw His works, and shared His life, yet now they don’t recognize Him. They not only misunderstood the meaning of His life, but even after an explanation, the significance of His saving death and resurrection still totally escapes them too. But then, what happens? And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. (Lk 24:30) Suddenly, there is recognition: in the breaking of the bread all is surprisingly clear. And this is the way it should be, for this is the sign of thanksgiving, the sign we call Eucharist, the way the Son of God comes to us in all power veiled in weakness. For what we have in Eucharist, in the bread we break, is precisely this: Jesus the Christ in the moment of supreme power hidden in terrible weakness; this is our Jesus as He dies on the cross and rises from the dead. The terrifying weakness of death is inseparably bound to the overwhelming victory of life—a life that now is stronger than death. There is no Easter without Good Friday; yet the darkness and death of Good Friday surrender inexorably to the brightness and life of Easter Sunday. As witness to this holy fact, this morning, we too break bread, just as did the Lord Jesus on the night before He died, and again on the first night He is alive again. And as the Lord Jesus would have it, this is also the way that the life of one called to be the Lord’s disciple and priest is described and defined. The life of a priest, of one who is responsible for the presence of the Eucharist in the life of the Church and in the world, is, in fact, described and defined in terms of death and resurrection—for only in this way can a priest claim truly his share in the life and love of his gracious Lord.

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