10/10/2009 Irish Kidney Association Thanksgiving Service

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Irish Kidney Association

Homily Notes of
Most Rev. Diarmuid Martin
Archbishop of Dublin, Primate of Ireland

Corpus Christi Church, Drumcondra, 10th October 2009

This is a unique gathering.  It is a gathering in which people from so many backgrounds come with hidden thoughts, thoughts about loved ones who have left us, in many cases in tragic circumstances.  It is about grief and sorrow at great loss, a grief and sorrow which is is so deep and so personal that it would be cynical if I were to say that I really fully understand it.  It is your grief which no one can share, but around which all of us here today can be with you and stand by you.

This gathering is also about joy and love.  Paradoxically the greater the love there was between each of you and the loved one you now miss, the greater your heartbreak at that loss.  You remember so many concrete gestures of love that you enjoyed with your loved ones, the love they showed to you, the love that bonded you together.  The greater the love, the more you grieve and mourn.

This is a unique gathering in which in many ways silence would be the most appropriate setting, the silence of each of your hearts, with all the memories along with all the hopes and dreams which have not come to fulfilment.
But this is a unique gathering also in that the moment of your grief has turned out to be a real promise of newness and life for others.  This gathering reminds us all of how we are all linked with each other.  When God created humankind he created us as a family.  Your memories of those you lost are memories shared by many.  The hope that has been brought has been brought as a gesture of solidarity with other families who have benefitted enormously from a precious gift from someone they may never have known.
Humankind is created as a family.  The human family is built-up by solidarity and brought down by self-centeredness. The story of the Good Samaritan is an interesting story known to you all.  It is about a man who falls among thieves and is left abandoned by the roadside.  Well known, respectable figures of society – a priest and a Levite – see him and walk by.  Then a Samaritan – an outcast – come and sees him, is moved to compassion, takes him into his arms, carries him, binds his wounds, carries him to an inn, pays to ensure that he is helped back to recovery.
We naturally look at the Samaritan as the hero of this story.  But who was the man who lay on the roadside?    The Gospel tells nothing about him:  no name, name nationality, no status, and no family tree.  The moral of the story is that we do not have to know those details.   We are told everything that is necessary: simply, he was a man, a human person in need. That should be enough to move each one of us to compassion.
The essence of the Christian life is caring, reflecting the life of Jesus Christ who revealed to us that God is love.  If God is love, being a follower of Jesus and being a believer must mean that we too become loving people, thinking not just of ourselves, but even in the midst of greatest sorrow recognising the need of someone we may not know, and changing a situation which seemed tragic and hopeless and meaningless into gesture of goodness and love.
In today’s Gospel Phillip brings some Greeks who wish to see Jesus.  Rather than giving them a few words of greeting and a quick handshake Jesus tells them that unusual story that unless the grain of seed falls it will remain all by itself, but if it dies it will bring much fruit.  Jesus is saying that encountering him and following him is not a question of a quick handshake or a few polite words. The true Jesus is seen only when we understand the way he gave his life so that others might have life to the full.   Life’s meaning is found in ways we do not expect.   Life’s meaning takes on a totally new dimension when it becomes life giving.
We thank God for the goodness and the love that we experienced through our loved ones when they were with us.  We thank God for the way their love and goodness was transformed at the moment of their death through the donation of their organs.   We know that their death brought promise and hope to others in this life, and we are assured that through that gesture our loved ones will have seen their life transformed into eternal life.  We remember them in our prayers, knowing that they will protect us from their heavenly abode.