When a repentant sinner returns

I was moved. Deeply moved. It was a rare occasion for me to be shedding tears at the funeral Mass. I shed not a single tear when my parents passed away. I knew Who had summoned them and I knew where they were going – to their eternal rest. Praise God!
But this morning was different. I was not sad. I did not choose to cry or to act as if I was in mourning. Nothing of that sort. Then why were the tears so abundant? Why did I find myself groping for tissue paper every now and then?
Pope Francis said recently that a Christian had to be a revolutionary. Yes, a revolutionary. And I remember a French man who said that Christ did not come for frivolous matters. He came to save souls.
How true!
I suppose the tears that rolled down my cheeks were tears of joy and deep gratitude. I was listening intently for 40 minutes on a funeral homily of a Jesuit priest, Fr. Joseph Yao. Aged 57. A priest for only about 8 years. A short vocation, no doubt, compared to those whom I have known who celebrated 60 years of their priesthood. But it was still a meaningful and wonderful time of grace. A time for all of us to look back and rejoice.
Although my acquaintance with Fr. Joseph was limited to a Mass at a retreat, I had seen him and spoken briefly to him. He was friendly and he was simple. He had no airs about him.
Late did I learn today that he was a man who loved his priesthood. He more than made up for all the years when he was far from the Sacraments. He more than made up for the times when he would go his own way. He made a turn and came back to God. He had a late vocation and he gave his life up for the priesthood, and what a blessing that has been!
Late did I learn today that he was a man of great academic excellence, a compassionate confessor and a good retreat master. . . When he knew he had little time left on earth, he started to prepare for his death. He did not leave things for those left behind to clean up after him. He settled all that was necessary including the people he wanted to thank specially. I looked at Fr. Tim who had heard Fr. Joseph Yao’s last confession and anointed him with the last rites, and I praised our merciful God.
Yes, I heard much more today and I was grateful for the way his life had turned out. Such an inspiring homily!
Even Fr. James Tan broke down and shed tears for his good friend.

I am certain that those of us who were there left the Church of St Ignatius with much food for thought. Three Bishops, several priests and lots of lay people heard the beautiful story of the sheep that came back to the fold.
Yes, our Holy Father is right. Jesus left the 99 sheep to look for the one lost sheep. We have only one sheep and we need to look for the 99. Lord, help us! The harvest indeed is plentiful but the labourers are few. Lord, help us.

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