God’s grace, peace and mercy be with you. … On behalf of Ilonha, John and our immediate and extended families, I thank you for gathering with us this morning for this Mass of Christian Burial for my brother, Ed.
I have heard 500 eulogies throughout my life and do not remember one. You may not have heard 500, but may remember as many as I have. I hope to send you from here with one you can finally remember.
Ed was my younger brother by 19 months. When you have known a person your entire life and spent nearly every day of the first twenty years of your life with him, you cannot eulogize him in a few short words. Yet, if I eulogize Ed with too many words, I risk turning an extraordinary life into one sounding mundane. So, allow me to share one brief moment in our lives.
Not long after our mother died, Ed and I embarked on a total house makeover. In 2007, we attended a home show at the Pittsburgh Convention Center. Afterwards, we decided to try the food and beer at The Church Brew Works. As we enjoyed our meal and discussed possibilities of our house makeover, I asked Ed about the beer chart on the wall. He explained the chart as only a chemist could.
A minute later Ed asked, “Do you know what the second most complex liquid on the planet is?” … Yeah, like I knew! … “No,” I replied. Ed answered, “Wine.”
Right now, you are probably thinking what I asked. “What is the most complex liquid on the planet?” Without hesitation, Ed said, “Blood.”
A marvelous theological insight! Jesus chose wine, the second most complex liquid on the planet, to symbolize his blood, and bread, one of the simplest foods, to symbolize his body.
As I reflect on that conversation from 2007, I realize Ed shared with me a marvelous theological insight and a snapshot of himself. Sometimes Ed complicated the simple, but he usually simplified the complex. Ed simplified the complex.
Our Christian faith is not as complex as earning a Masters degree in Chemistry, but as simple as a child opening his welcoming arms to a loving father. Ed mastered the complexity of chemistry and the simplicity of Christianity.
In closing, I lay before you this Curly Washburn challenge: Master one thing in life. You may be an expert at math, music, medicine or motherhood, law, logistics or languages, theology, chemistry or farming, but you must master one thing in life: the simplicity of Christianity.
Master the simplicity of Christianity by receiving God’s Grace, His Word and His Sacraments. Open yourself to God’s love poured into your heart through the Holy Spirit, and you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.
God gave Ed His Grace, His Word and His Sacraments – all that he needed not only for an extraordinary life lived, but also for an eternal life entered. Ed figured out how to live a Christian life long before he knew how to read periodic tables and beer charts. Ed mastered the simplicity of Christianity; he simplified the complex because he trusted God’s promise of eternal life through Christ crucified and he accepted that promise like a little child. Do that, and you, my brothers and sisters, will master the simplicity of Christianity.
As you do, may God send his angels to protect you. In Jesus’ Holy Name, we pray. Amen. … May the peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. Amen.