FEBRUARY 8, 2003, FUNERAL OF FR. VICTOR: JOHN 6: 53- 59
HE WHO EATS MY FLESH
AND DRINKS MY BLOOD HAS ETERNAL LIFE AND I WILL RAISE HIM UP ON THE LAST DAY.
These words of Jesus constitute perhaps the most consoling of all his
promises. Implicit in his words is that the nature of the eternal life he assures his
followers they will have flows from the Eucharistic meal. That means it consists in
intimate union with him. There is a second assertion here that represents an actualization
of this promise even now. For the Lord affirms that the one who eats his body and drinks
his blood already possesses eternal life. In other words, to receive the Eucharist in
faith is already to share in the life of the glorified Christ and to begin the same
eternal life that is to be our portion in the world to come.
This is the promise that our Father Victor put his trust in; it was his faith that God is faithful to his promises and will fulfill this one that motivated his life as a monk. This promise made by Jesus provides the firm basis for the hope that Father Victor based his confidence on, the confidence needed to remain faithful to the end even in the midst of trials and suffering. There are other promises our Lord made to with a striking show of solemnity in addition to this one which contribute further to our trust that Fr. Victor is now with the Lord. What you did to one of these my least brothers you did to me (Mt. 25:40). Even after much of his memory and mental functions were lost to disease, Father Victor never forgot his practical concern for the poor. Frequently he would drop in my office to persuade me to set up a current version of the housing program in which he had been active in better days. He even composed a little song: bricks for the poor which he never tired of chanting.
As one of the six founders of this community, Fr. Victor shared with his fellow monks a dedication to sharing the life of the poor. This concern impelled the monks to construct the first monastery in the same Nipa style as marked the homes of their neighbors. Later experienced revealed the impracticality of such buildings and awareness of the problems arising from such frail and open construction. This eventuated not only in building certain monastic structures in brick but in establishing a housing program for the needy that made use of the same home made bricks employed by the monks. Fr. Victors heart was so much in this outreach to the poor that he never lost his concern for extending such aide. The Lord will surely recognize in him one who was good to the least of his brothers.
In spite of
the limitations of his memory and mind Father never lost his awareness of the nature of
the Eucharist. He participated as a concelebrant until the last weeks of his life and gave
decided indications that he understood all the essentials of the Eucharist and received
the sacrament with reverence unfailingly.
As we commit his body to the earth and his soul to the Lord at this funeral mass we are full of hope that his absence from among us is only temporary, in that it will last only as long as time endures. For at the last day, when time comes to an end, we are convinced the Lord Jesus will recognize Fr. Victor as one of his own and, true to his word, will raise him up to eternal life and unending communion with the Risen Christ. Let us make it our purpose to be found at his side on that day as we share the same hope that strengthened him and enabled him to persevere to the end. May this Eucharist we share today be a pledge for each of us that we too already are partakers of that eternal life that Jesus promises to all those who put their faith in him and adhere to him in loving trust that he is truly our Savior.
Abbot John Eudes Bamberger
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