This week we have celebrated the funeral of Sister Teresa Flynn. The death of any of our parishioners brings a great mixture of emotions to family and friends and to all who know them. Teresa had touched the lives of so many people in this community and far beyond it, who have all been deeply affected by her death.
There have been both tears and laughter as we have shared our memories of her and our stories of her unique and often demanding approach to life, ministry and friendship, but running through those conversations has been a deep sense of gratitude for the witness Teresa has given to the love of God for each person, from the smallest child she taught to the oldest sick person she visited.
We are grateful, too, that, after such a long, active and independent life, with all her struggling to keep going in the face of advancing age and increasing infirmity, God took her to himself quickly. True to form, Teresa had left clear instructions about how her life and death was to be celebrated. The Gospel she chose for her Funeral Mass was a section of the Gospel for this Sunday, where Jesus call us his friends and commissions us to go out and bear fruit that will last. In the passage we hear this weekend, Jesus also promises that his own joy will be in us and our joy will be complete, if we keep his commandment to love one another and to lay down our lives for each other.
Along with many others, Teresa regarded Pope Francis as a great gift from God and these words from his letter The Joy of the Gospel summed up her mission in life:
‘I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day. No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.’
Teresa was so committed to this ideal that she could be quite formidable in urging people to take up the challenge of the Gospel. The best way we can honour her memory is to accept Pope Francis’ invitation unfailingly, every day.