Fr. Paul Scalia, one of the nine children of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, delivered a powerful Christocentric homily at his father’s funeral at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. on Saturday.
“We are gathered here because of one man,” Fr. Scalia began after a few acknowledgements, letting you believe he was speaking of his father. “A man known personally to many of us, known only by reputation to even more; a man loved by many, scorned by others; a man known for great controversy and for great compassion.”
“That man, of course, is Jesus of Nazareth.”
Fr. Scalia continued: “It is he who we proclaim: Jesus Christ, Son of the Father, born of the Virgin Mary, crucified, buried, risen, seated at the right hand of the Father. It is because of him, because of his life, death, and resurrection, that we do not mourn as those who have no hope, but in confidence we commend Antonin Scalia to the mercy of God.”
Fr. Scalia was referencing the fact that Catholic funeral masses are offered for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed, rather than being simply memorial services.
“In the past week, many have recounted what Dad did for them. But here, today, we recount what God did for Dad, how he blessed him. We give thanks, first of all, for the atoning death and life giving resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
“Our Lord died and rose not only for all of us, but also for each of us. And at this time we look to… his death and resurrection, and we give thanks that he died and rose for Dad.”
Fr. Scalia went on to list other reasons for gratitude: that Justice Scalia received the Sacraments, that he was married for 55 years, had a deep Catholic faith, and loved his country.
He recounted the Church’s teaching on purgatory, and called for people to pray for his father. “We are here, then, as he would want, to pray for God’s inexplicable mercy to a sinner; to this sinner, Antonin Scalia. Let us not show him a false love and allow our admiration to deprive him of our prayers. We continue to show affection for him and do good for him by praying for him, that all stain of sin be washed away, that all wounds be healed, that he be purified of all that is not Christ, that he rest in peace.”
And he offered an exhortation for all listening to consider their own eternal destiny. “Finally, we look to Jesus, forever, into eternity. Or better, we consider our own place in eternity and whether it will be with the Lord. Even as we pray with Dad to enter swiftly into eternal glory, we should be mindful of ourselves.”
“Every funeral reminds us of just how thin the veil is between this world and the next, between time and eternity, between the opportunity for conversion and the moment of judgement. So we cannot depart here unchanged.”
“It makes no sense to celebrate God’s goodness and mercy to Dad if we are not attentive and responsive to those realities in our own lives. We must allow this encounter with eternity to change us, to turn us from sin and towards the Lord.”