The following is the homily that Father Gary delivered for Kim at her funeral. I am grateful for his permission to share it here.
Please travel with me today – at least in your imagination. Travel from here to Bethany – a village in Galilee in Israel not far from the sea – the area where Jesus called some his disciples to drop their nets and follow him. The place where so many of his miracles were accomplished.
But today he is not there to break and share bread with the multitudes – not there to open the eyes of a blind man or cleanse any lepers. Today he is there because his friend Lazarus has died. Today he there to be with Martha and Mary. Today he is there to stand as a mourner among mourners to grieve the death of someone who, just like Kimberli, died too quickly – too young.
The gospel tells us that Jesus stood outside of the grave with Lazarus family and friends and he wept. He didn’t tell them it would be ok. He didn’t say this was somehow God’s will. He didn’t comfort them by suggesting that Lazarus was in a better place or happily reunited with others who had gone before him. He just wept. And the words that John used in the gospel don’t indicate that he shed a tear or silently sobbed – instead tears were flowing and he cried loudly.
But why … ? He knew the miracle that was about to happen. He knew the reunion about to unfold. He knew that the grief around him would soon turn to incredible joy.
So why the tears?
Jesus was surrounded by friends who were overwhelmed with sorrow. He could sense the numbness of their lives. He understood how their faith was shaken and could feel their doubt in the providence and even the existence of God. He heard their silent questions of how they would go on …….. and so with them and for them …. He wept.
Truth be told, as a priest, pastor, as a church, as a community of friends we also lack words that can heal, words that can give hope or even words that offer fleeting comfort. Perhaps down the road at some other time those words will come – perhaps they will never come, but today ……. All we can do today is what Jesus did – to stand with you and weep with you.
And as a Gentile all I can do is share my faith and hope with you – that Jesus who is the same yesterday, today, and always, is among us when we gather in his name. And the same Jesus who stood at the grave of Lazarus and wept – stands among us who mourn for Kimberli and – with us and for us – he weeps again today.