Do You Believe Jesus Wants to Take Care of You? | Funeral Homily for Walter Tumpane

Homily for the Funeral of Walter Tumpane
Sacred Heart Catholic Church – Palos Hills, Illinois
19 July 2018

In many ways, it is something beautiful and fitting
that we are gathered this morning in a Church
built for the Glory of God in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus;
the Sacred Heart is that abyss of virtue, that glowing furnace of charity,
the desire of the saints, and fire of the everlasting hills,
all of those things that we pray and that we believe
our husband, father, stepfather, grandfather, and friend
Walter Tumpane
is experiencing with great delight
even as we gather to mourn him and celebrate his life.

My name is Father Ryan Adorjan, one of Walter’s grandchildren,
and a priest at the Cathedral of St. Raymond in Joliet.
I am grateful to the staff at the Cathedral for their help this week,
and would like to express a word of gratitude to all the friends
who are with us today, and who have reached out to us from all across the world
to express sympathy and well wishes.
The presence of so many friends means the world to my family,
and is proof for us all that kindness is still tangible in the world.

Do you believe Jesus wants to take care of you?

The Gospel this morning presents a beautiful account
of the way the answer to that question unfolds.

Mary, Martha, Lazarus, and Jesus were friends.
Their relationship comes up elsewhere in the Gospels,
and it is clear that the siblings Mary, Martha, and Lazarus
believe in Jesus as the Messiah.
Mary falls at his feet and laments,
“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Seeing their sorrow and feeling their pain,
Jesus becomes distressed and we see him do something we haven’t seen yet in the Gospels:
“and Jesus wept.”

One of the most touching moments since Walter took a turn for the worse in May
was the story told to me of his first days in the hospital.
The story goes that he told the nurse that he needed to live until May 26,
because his grandson would become a priest that day.

Do you believe Jesus wants to take care of you?

Mary and Martha led Jesus to the tomb of their brother,
and again he became distressed.

Jesus told them to roll away the stone.
But Martha, despite her belief in Jesus as Lord,
argued with him:
“by now there will be a stench;

he has been dead for four days.”

Jesus said to her,

“Did I not tell you that if you believe

you will see the glory of God?”

So they took away the stone.”

Walter began having more and more trouble with his stomach
at the end of May and in early June.

The decision was made that he and Pat would stay home from my ordination,
and would watch it live on YouTube.
This meant that they would both also miss my first Mass as a priest.
When I came to their little hut on Lighthouse Lane
the following Tuesday
I celebrated Mass on their kitchen table.
In the 18 years I knew Walter,
I knew him to be a man of deep, deep faith and enjoyed Catholic “shop talk” with him.
But that Tuesday evening in late spring, at a townhouse kitchen table,
we broke bread together and for the first time
I saw Walter pray.

This man at prayer was truly unlike anything I’d seen before.
He was so still, so focused, so quiet.
I saw in that moment the sincerity and the depth of his love for Jesus as Lord.

Do you believe Jesus wants to take care of you?

When Jesus stood in front of the tomb of Lazarus,
and watched the stone be rolled away,
he prayed:

“Father, I thank you for hearing me.
I know that you always hear me;
but because of the crowd here I have said this,
that they may believe that you sent me.”
And when he had said this,
he cried out in a loud voice,
“Lazarus, come out!”

On July 11, last Wednesday, I made another trip to Lighthouse Lane,
partially because I had been craving a Buona Beef Cheeseburger
and I know that Grandma would be the woman I needed to see about that.
But I brought with me, as I bring everywhere, my Oil of the Sick and my purple stole
to celebrate the Anointing of the Sick.
As I prayed over Walter, I thought he was unconscious,
deep in sleep.

It was the first time I ever prayed the Apostolic Pardon as a priest,
forgiving Walter of all of his sins and granting to him a Plenary Indulgence,
complete forgiveness of sin and of the temporal punishment of those sins.
As I prayed the words of absolution over him,
with eyes still closed,
he raised his right hand and attempted to make the sign of the cross,
perhaps for the last time.

Do you believe Jesus wants to take care of you?

“The dead man came out,
tied hand and foot with burial bands,
and his face was wrapped in a cloth.
So Jesus said to the crowd,
“Untie him and let him go.”

Untie him and let him go.

Tied for so long, much longer perhaps than any of us knew,
by pain and sickness,
what I think Walter feared most was not death,
but the uncertainty of transition.

He really did believe that Jesus wants to take care of him.
He felt perhaps a tinge of guilt of leaving my grandma all alone;
He wondered what his family would be like after him;
how would his children spend the rest of their lives?
who would his grandchildren go on to become?
would Michigan ever win a championship at anything?

I transitioned into priesthood as Walter transitioned out of this world.
And he helped me, and I helped him. We did it together.
Tied down for nearly 90 years by the same existential questions that all of us face:
What will make me happy? What will satisfy me at the deepest level? How is it possible to live? What will be the source of gladness on my face, of joy in my heart?

And to be the one, in that moment last Wednesday, to bring the Living Christ
into that living room on Lighthouse Lane,
to speak in the name of Christ, to untie Walter from the bonds of these questions, of his sins,
of his fears
is an amazing thing.

Do you believe Jesus wants to take care of you?
Now many of the Jews who had come to Mary
     and seen what Jesus had done began to believe in him.

The most amazing thing, however, and the thing
that I will take with me forever into my priesthood
is the gift of being present to watch him make that final sign of the cross.
Yes, it was a beautiful moment for those of us standing around him,
but I truly believe that was Walter telling himself as much as he was telling us
that he had found the answer to those questions,
that he knew personally the one who was calling him to himself
and that he was ready to meet God,
the Father and Son and Spirit
whom he had loved for some 90 years on earth.

He was telling us something very important as tried to lift his hand to his forehead:

What will make me happy? What will satisfy me at the deepest level? How is it possible to live? What will be the source of gladness on my face, of joy in my heart?

Happiness has a name, satisfaction has a name, life has a name, gladness has a name, joy in our hearts has a name: and his name is Jesus.

My heart is glad because you life, oh Christ.

In 1928,
Walter died with Christ in the waters of baptism
and rose with Christ as a new creation.
On that day,
Walter became a son of God the Father,
and on that day the Good and Merciful Father
promised Walter never to abandon him.
He promised to love him and forgive him,
and that, whenever the time would come,
he would give Walter a share of his kingdom.

Today we are called to let Walter go on his way,
free from the ties of this life that bound him,
and to inherit his place in the kingdom
which has been prepared for him from the beginning of the world.

We let Walter go on his way,
and we entrust him into the arms of the Father
with a prayer of confident hope.

Dear friends,

Please remember your dignity.
What has been promised to Walter,
what he believed in throughout his life,
and what he showed us to be the only lasting thing
the only lasting thing – when health and freedom and independence and even life are taken away –
is being promised and freely offered to us.
The best way we can honor Walter’s memory
is to give Jesus the room to work within us
as he reaches out to us,
as he orders the stones we’re stuck behind to be rolled away,
as he calls us forward into the light of truth and beauty and goodness,
as he steps forward to untie us,
as he comes to us to make us new and holy and free.

Jesus wants to take care of us.

Do you believe that?
Walter did, and I can’t but think it’s what made all the difference.