In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
And she gladly did it because she had heard the invitation to that banquet on our Lord’s Holy Mountain! That heavenly garden with gorgeous vistas, the finest wine and food, in the presence of the Lord Himself who has swallowed up death and called us out of the grave to His banquet table! You see, Aileen’s life was lived free of that veil that covers life on earth: the fear of death which holds us all in thrall and dominates what we do, filling us with fear and apprehension that God will judge us, reject us, and our lives will come to nothing with no purpose or meaning and we will be utterly forgotten, and ultimately damned. But Aileen had that veil removed from her life because she had already died in her Baptism and been raised to everlasting life with her Lord.
And many of you know that she faced many life-imperiling situations over the years and kept bouncing back from them, as though she had nine lives. But I tell you she could bounce back, not merely because of her indomitable will, or that “sisu” which was hers by birthright, but especially because she didn’t fear death. She was needed here. She had work to do. People to serve. Her Lord to give witness too. She knew and trusted the invitation that Christ our Lord gives to all people. The invitation to come to His death defeating banquet. That’s why she craved the Lord’s Supper week in and week out where she got a foretaste of that glorious heavenly feast to come, where heaven itself with all its hosts gather around altars like this one and the saints on earth commune with Our Lord and with His saints in heaven.
Aileen was no saint because of her actions. They too often fell short. She’d be the first to tell you that. She was a saint because Jesus Christ had called her out of the grave, just like Lazarus. She had new life, everlasting life. That is why the death of the Lord’s saints is precious and blessed in His sight, because it draws the completion of His invitation to His Heavenly banquet one step closer! For if you hear His invitation, the grave can not contain you for you will rise just like Lazarus on that Last Day. If you have heard the Lord’s invitation, you are already alive, you need not live in the fear of death. You can be free, to live and to love like Aileen. Christ Jesus took the judgement, condemnation, and death your sins deserve, paid the price with His own suffering and death, and then defeated death by rising again. And He invites you to His marriage feast where there will be eternal celebration of the joy of His union with His Bride, the Church. Listen to that call today and in faith follow Aileen’s example.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.