Josie, your children Romain, Romauld, Roxanne, your eight grandchildren and one great grandchild, all your wonderful family we want you to know that we share your sorrow, and we are here to share with you a thanksgiving to our Lord for Gil’s 80 years of life and now the greatest gift as he inherits the Kingdom of God.
Sacred scripture tells us when speaking about the duration of life that: seventy is the sum of our years or eighty if we are strong. Gil was 80 so apparently, he is one of the strong ones. His life was taken from him by the corona virus, a pandemic which is taking lives worldwide and continues to do so. But what now?
The book of Wisdom tells us: the souls of the just are in the hands of God and no torment shall touch them. Imagine if you can see Gil’s soul in God’s hand. We are told he seemed to be dead and his passing away an affliction, and his going forth from us utter destruction but he is at peace. This is our faith and our hope: everlasting life. He is at peace.
I want you to think about your memories of your husband, dad, grandpa. It is important to keep them alive by continuing to interact with Gil (pray for him), remember the special times you had together; use photos; keep his image alive in you. I remember interacting with Gil. He had an unusual way of speaking; I remember him saying, “yeah we can do it”. He had an incredibly positive attitude. Remember. Josie, do you remember when Gil proposed to you? These memories are uplifting. Now we bring them to this altar as an offering of thanksgiving. As we do this, we are reminded of two very strong emotions, sadness, and happiness. We hold these two emotions, and they seem to conflict with each other; as if they cannot exist together as if they cannot hold hands. But they do. They are bound together by the power of the Holy Spirit; the gift of consolation. The Holy Spirit comforts us and from this comfort comes spiritual joy.
Consolation! The gospel I just proclaimed is a gospel that Deacon Gil proclaimed many times during his 39 years as a deacon. The beatitudes. Jesus went up the mountain and after he had sat down, his disciples came to him and he began to teach them. 8 blessings, and as someone has said 8 doors to the kingdom. 8 ways for us to achieve happiness. I believe that Gil would pick one for his family to embrace at this time: Blessed are they who mourn for they will be comforted.
We realize that Gil lived these beatitudes when we consider the major events in his life:
He served his country in the Marines, counseling of troubled youth and their families, he counseled jail inmates and officers in Adams county, and in Kansas he ministered to inmates in a mental health facility. Most important of all he raised a family, a devoted husband and dad and grandpa.
Look at the signs around us that show us how he lived God’s will. First his baptism; he became a child of God. The white pall on the casket reminds us of this. Married to Josie for 57 years the sacrament of marriage and the sign is his family. He was ordained a deacon 39 years ago by Archbishop Casey. On the day of his ordination, he prostrated himself before God’s altar, a sign of humility before God; the Archbishop laid hands on him ordaining him as a deacon servant of Christ. Deacon Gil received the book of the gospels; “Receive the book of the Gospel of Christ whose herald you are, believe what you read, teach what you believe and practice what you teach. Today we bring him here before the altar of Christ with the Book of Gospels; it lays on his casket; a sign that he believed, he taught and he practiced; a sign of his fidelity; knowing God, loving, and serving him. A true servant, a herald for Christ.
These are the outward signs of our worship as we gather to celebrate the Eucharist; we have listened to God’s word; we now prepare to offer ourselves with Jesus in sacrifice to His Father and then we will be united with him in communion. And we wonder; we wonder about Gil, Deacon Gilbert Edward. Our Lord knows what is going on in our hearts and we have been given his consolation. St Paul tells us: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on us what God has prepared for those who love him. Gil loved Jesus.
His soul is in the hand of God and no torment will touch him. He is at peace.
By: Deacon Al Sandoval at St Augustine Parish in Brighton.