Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Jesus Christ can fill up the God-sized, God-shaped hole in any heart.

Homily for Wake Service

One of the most popular films [of this season] is a little fifties vignette, A Christmas Story. In the plot, young Ralphie sets his heart on an air rifle for Christmas, and endures ridicule and scorn in his quest for this gift he believes will make him happy. In the end, he has his toy weapon, and falls asleep on Christmas Day with a smile on his lips.

So what does this tale, which doesn’t even envision Ralphie’s family going to church on Christmas, have to do with our high religious purpose today? Everything. Ralphie was looking for happiness. We know he saw some goodness in that little BB gun. He saw himself as a secret agent, decoding Ovaltine messages from the radio, as a valiant cowboy defending his cowering family from violent thieves. He even assumed the role of hero for a moment, and, despite his size and cowardice, gave a good thrashing to the real villain of the film. In other words, Ralphie wanted to be a hero. He was really looking to fill up the deep hole he felt in his life.

All of us are like Ralphie. We spend our lives in awareness that whatever pleasure, honor or joy we experience in this life, it isn’t enough. We want more than we have. We want to be more than we are now. God, in his mercy, built us that way. He made us with a hole in our hearts, one that is God-sized and God-shaped. Only He can fill our hearts. Only He can fulfill us. That’s what St. Paul meant when he tells us that he would rather be at home with the Lord, even though he knows he has more work to do for us.

That is why, in His divine love, God sent us His only Son, Jesus. By ourselves, we can’t fill up the hole–not with the pitiful pleasures and honors of earth, not even with the good feeling we get from helping someone who is hungry or homeless. Jesus let a soldier open His heart with a lance so that the healing waters of Baptism, the precious Blood of Eucharist could begin to heal and fill our hearts with Divine Love and Compassion.

That is what we are praying for today. Our (brother/sister) ___________ believed in this mystery and participated in it. We give thanks for this life, we give thanks that he/she died in charity. We ask that the master hole-filler, Jesus Christ, complete the work of healing this heart, so that joy, eternal joy, might fill it forever.

And we pray for ourselves and our families, in the hope that we will all accept this wonderful gift of saving grace, that we will live and die in the charity of Jesus Christ, and be with each other in what the Letter to the Hebrews calls the assembly of the firstborn, in union with God forever.

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