|A funeral homily For Caleb by Father Gene Pistacchio, ofm
A funeral homily for Caleb McIntosh – June 3, 2004
Delivered by Fr. Gene Pistacchio, ofm
Wendy, John, Evan, Melissa, Kimberly and Dylan, we come into this sacred place to stand by you during a tragic time in your life; a time that came upon you ever so suddenly. I am sure it seems as though you are living in a fog, simply hoping that this is one dark dream that will pass. Yet, the reality of Caleb’s untimely death strikes at the core of our hearts. Many thoughts and conflicting emotions clamor for your attention, trying to make sense of it all asking: “Why?” over and over again. There are no easy or satisfying answers to that question especially when the world was at Caleb’s feet. His one tragic choice does not however cancel out all the goodness in him.
Life was before him and he seemed in the view of many people, to be filled with life as he played practical jokes around the house. Can you hear his infectious laugh? He displayed a huge heart, ‘leaping through life’ – on the go – into everything.’ And though he was mischievous at times, you knew that deep in his young heart, he knew compassion as he tried to see the good side of people- always giving them the benefit of the doubt!
His neighbors loved him, as he was always ready to help them with the groceries or cut the grass or shovel snow! He was growing into being a very responsible person as he took care of his family, doing all sorts of chores around the house and yard without being asked. He made sure the family had all the necessary items when they went out on family trips. Caleb was quite dependable and reliable and loyal. He was a friend as well as a son, brother and teammate. When he worked, he gave of himself 200%. When he played sports, particularly football, he could be quite competitive as well. But there was a gentle side of Caleb as well. His sister Kimi remembers when Caleb would come home after a long day at school and work, he would calm Keara in his arms and helped her to fall asleep, sometimes falling asleep right next to her.
Caleb was curious about everything and loved trying new things. One time, when the family was in Germany, he found a chicken and decided to give it a bath! Another time, he took apart a digital clock and tried to fix it but was not always successful.
Caleb had just started a new job last week and was preparing himself for Marshal University to study criminal justice in the fall. With all these qualities and enormous promise in a young man, family and friends looked up to him in many ways.
Brothers and sisters, today’s funeral helps us to affirm all the good choices Caleb made. So, we want to hold on to Caleb. We don’t want to let him go nor say good-bye to one so young, so talented, so loving and compassionate. With so many virtues and ‘immense integrity,’ no wonder his sudden death is so painful. How could you see it coming?
It seems to me that Caleb’s parents Wendy and John have raised a very fine young man, so fine that there is absolutely no room for guilt or shame. Wendy and John, you have done what every other parent in this church would do and does: Love him completely and unconditionally- JUST AS GOD DOES.
Caleb, for an unknown reason, decided to take his life-ONE TRAGIC CHOICE FOR WHICH GOD ALSO WEEPS. At such times, it is so easy to blame ourselves and wonder what any of us could have done to prevent Caleb from making this irreversible choice. But blame and guilt are futile. They add nothing to our already burdened hearts. I am confident that Caleb, given all that I know about him in a very short period of time, would not want you, his family, to blame yourselves. I am confident that Caleb WANTS AND NEEDS YOUR FORGIVENESS. I am confident that Caleb HAS GOD’S FORGIVENESS. As Jesus asked his Father to forgive his executioners immediately after they nailed him to a cross, HEAR JESUS ASK HIS FATHER: “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO.” HEAR CALEB SAY TO JESUS: “JESUS, REMEMBER ME WHEN YOU COME IN YOUR REIGN.” HEAR JESUS SAY TO CALEB: “ TODAY, YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE.”
Caleb, so full of life, of vitality, always running here and there has not stopped running, only this time, he has run into the tender arms of God. I somehow feel that the gates of paradise are left wide open on such an occasion, so that Caleb did not have to knock on heavens door.
I, we, cannot imagine nor judge what was in Caleb’s mind but I would strongly encourage all the young people here this morning to try your very best to talk to someone you trust about anything that troubles you, about anything that causes you great inner pain ….and choose life.
Oftentimes, taking one’s life is not always a refusal to live as it is an intense, irrational, and momentary desire to be rid of pain or overwhelming sorrow, where death seems to be the only way out. Sharing your pain can quickly change your perception that something is unbearable. Unfortunately and regrettably, Caleb did not choose to share whatever problems he found insurmountable and so we find ourselves at his funeral today weeping. REMEMBER, GOD WEEPS WITH US TOO!
God will never interfere in any of our choices because of the gift of free will but when we do make bad choices in life, God does not turn against us because God is always on our side and is always for us. All we have to do is look at that cross to know that God is always here for us. St. Paul tells us that God acquits us and Jesus intercedes for us, especially when we do not know what we do. No, nothing, NOT EVEN THE MOST SORROWFUL TRADEGY CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF CHRIST. “NOT ANGUISH, DISTRESS, PERSECUTION, FAMINE, OR PERIL. NOT DEATH NOR LIFE, NOR POWERS, NOR ANGELS, NOR PRESENT THINGS NOR FUTURE THINGS, NOR ANY OTHER CREATURE CAN SEPARATE US FROM THE LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS.”
Let us this morning remember and be consoled by the many wonderful choices Caleb made in his young life, even too numerous to count. Let us also remember that the favors of the Lord are not exhausted in the face of ONE TRAGIC CHOICE. God’s mercies are not spent but are renewed each morning especially when we remember his Son’s own suffering and death around this table of fellowship and communion. Let us place our hope in God’s faithfulness toward us knowing confidently that death is not the final word, JESUS CHRIST IS! And in him, Caleb has ‘passed over’ from death to an eternal life where all suffering is vanquished forever! Caleb, we love and miss you. Thank you for all your kindnesses and good heartedness of a lifetime. May our fond and loving memories of Caleb give us strength, and peace. Our God loves Caleb and us with a love beyond all telling!