Today was the funeral of John O'Hara, my husband's colleague. He was 56 years old, husband to Marian and father to Erin and Sean. He was the eldest brother of 10 siblings, and a friend to all who knew him. He was a faithful Catholic husband, father, and officer in the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He spent the last 30 years of his life helping to keep our country safe and secure. John, as his son so aptly put it, was a "man's man" who left a lasting impression on all who knew him.
There were approximately 500 people at the funeral; 500 people who were truly touched and inspired by John's life. It was clearly a witness to Christ in him. His best friend Conrad eulogized him by walking us through the many attributes of John. The two that Conrad seemed to focus on most were loyalty and integrity. John seemed to practice these attributes, or virtues, in every aspect of his life. And, from what I could tell, there was no hyperbole in the assessment of his character. Everyone seemed to have similar stories with regard to these particular virtues in John.
I didn't know him well at all; I had only met him once, in fact. After this Mass of Christian burial, however, I felt like I knew him very well . I wish, sadly, that I had actually had that opportunity. I'm sure he would have blessed my life, as he did my husband's and his other colleagues in the field.
The second reading at the Mass today was:
We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers. Whoever does not love remains in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life remaining in him. The way we came to know love was that he laid down his life for us; so we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. (1 Jn 3:14-16)This reading was so beautifully read by one of John's brothers. The sentiment as he read this passage was palpable. He would have gladly laid down his life for his brother. That speaks volumes about a family that knows and lives Christ's love for one another.
I find myself so grateful to have participated in the Mass today for this remarkable man. It has made me mindful of how people consider the way I behave, treat others and present myself as a child of God. I can only hope that someday, I too might be remembered in the same way that John was remembered today.
Eternal rest grant unto John, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.