By Fr. Anthony
I first met Tom just over three years ago when I came to work in Axminster. He was, with Ruth, a faithful and committed Christian and I often wish that I’d known him in his younger days, because I know that he was full of stories and could tell them as only the Irish can.
It was a joy to minister to him and over the last three years, to take him the Sacrament both at home in Chard, and later, in hospital here in Taunton. Ruth will remember that visit quite clearly because we got lost en- route somewhere in the backwoods between Yarcombe and Churchstanton. But we made it and it was a pleasure to see how Tom was progressing.
I think the things which I will remember most clearly about Tom apart from his smiling eyes were his great gentleness, and the way in which he was always pleased to see me. He was as far as I knew him, a kind, patient, man; and although we haven’t used that piece of scripture today, do you remember that in his letter to the Christians at Corinth , St Paul wrote about love? He told us that love was patient, gentle and kind and so, you see, when we see a Christian person showing us patience, gentleness and kindness then we can recognise the presence of love in that person’s life. We can take heart then, because we know that Tom was filled with Christian love . St Paul also taught us that love never fails. Love lasts for ever. Love never dies because to be filled with love means to be filled with God.
Today is sad, because we can’t do any of those loving things which we need so much. We can’t get close to each other, we can’t hug each other, we can’t even shake hands, and the only “goodbye” that I can say to you today will be the one which I will say from this podium in a few minutes time. But these days will pass, and soon we will be able to do all of those things in church which I know Tom would have wanted. We will have a Requiem Mass and dare I say it, we’ll also have a party.
I think Tom knows this. Jesus said in the Gospel passage which we heard just now that he was going to prepare a place for his friends. A place where the love which is ours on earth can continue to grow. A place where Tom is waiting for Ruth and where their love will continue for ever, in the presence of the love of God our Father. It is to this God that we confidently commend Tom today. May he rest in peace, because he was truly a friend of Jesus. Amen