The homily delivered at the memorial mass captured so well a glimpse at what I believe Jesse's life was meant to show us. Here is that glimpse, in the words of our pastor:
Human life is precious. Indeed, it is sacred.
There are passages in the scriptures that indicate that Jesus, even in while in the womb, was already influencing others. When Mary, carrying Jesus in her womb, made the trip into the hill country to visit Elizabeth, who was also pregnant, Elizabeth was overjoyed. She was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and remarked, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me”. Not only was Elizabeth touched by the presence of Jesus, but even the child in her womb (John the Baptist) was aware of and reacted to the presence of Jesus. Elizabeth went on to say, “the moment your greeting sounded in my ears, the baby stirred in my womb for joy!”
Today we have come to remember the life of Jesse Jo. He was born on January 26 and lived for less than an hour. But his life really began 8 months earlier when he was conceived in Hanna’s womb. And his life too affected many people in those 8 months and continues to affect many people today. He obviously affects the lives of Hanna and Dan, Miles and Garret. And I know that he has had the attention of many people beyond his immediate family; there are all those other extended family members, grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins; there are the doctors and nurses who became involved; there is the birth circle; there are the friends of Dan and Hanna; there are all of us parishioners and everyone else gathered here today. Didn’t Jesse Jo get all of us praying more? And praying more intently? God is likely saying to him now, “Good job, Jesse!”
After Jesse’s birth I had the great privilege of seeing him, touching him and baptizing him. That means I saw, I touched, I baptized a saint!
It is our firm belief that after his death Jesse went straight to heaven, that the words of Jesus in today’s gospel, “Let the children come to me,” applied to Jesse in a special way!
The readings we have just heard, assure us that, as Hanna provided for Jesse in the womb this last 8 months, God is now providing for him in heaven and that, for him, there is rejoicing and happiness there.
Is Jesse’s influence or work finished after such a brief life? I don’t think so.
It has been 2,000 years since Jesus’ death. And we still pray, asking him to help us, guide us, heal us, and to intervene in the lives of our family members and friends.
So, too, because of our belief in the communion of Saints, do we turn to those saints in heaven and ask them to intercede for us, to bring our needs, worries and anxieties before the Lord. After all they are much closer to Him than we are.
So while there is certainly grief in our hearts because of Jesse’s death, let us realize that he is very much alive; that he cares about us; that he is present with us today spiritually; and that he is ready and willing from his place in heaven to intercede with God on our behalf.
Today is a good day for us to take a moment to consider what are our anxieties now and for what might we ask Jesse’s intercession as we celebrate his entrance into eternal life.