Today was a difficult day. This morning I presided over the funeral Mass for Matthew Kellermann, an 18 year old recent high school graduate who was tragically killed in a car accident last Friday afternoon on a local highway. It occurred during a rainstorm when he hydroplaned on wet roads and struck other vehicles before losing his own life. His Mom and Dad are beyond consolation, as are his two younger brothers.
Many family and friends including many classmates and others from his school, gathered in shock and sorrow to mourn their loss and to grieve together. What do you say? To the parents? To the adults present? And to the kids?
You often hear people say that this was his appointed time, that God called Matt or took Matt from us. I pointed out that the God that I know did not arbitrarily say on that Friday afternoon that Matthew Kellermann would be snatched out of our lives. I pointed out that when the stream of events and circumstances converged on that stretch of Route 30 and Matthew died, that it was then that the promise of our loving Savior, given in baptism, took on reality, and that the Lord was there in Matt's greatest moment of need, to see him home, to walk him to the Father, to hug him, support him, love him and bring him peace. I pointed out that it was at that moment when our relationship with God in Jesus Christ also took on a new dimension - that in those moments of shock and grief, helplessness and pain, that Jesus carries us. We can lean on him and trust him to see us through these dark days.
I also reminded those present that there is the story of another Friday afternoon, around the same time (3 in the afternoon), during a frightful storm, when another young man, just shy of twice Matthew's age, met a tragic end and died on a cross in a senseless act of darkness. He left a mother who was wracked by grief, friends who were devastated and robbed of his friendship and their future and hope, of bystanders who did not understand the reason for this death and the direction that the world was taking. That dark Friday we now call "good", not because death is good, but because something good came from that death, a peace and understanding beyond measure transformed hearts and minds, darkness eventually gave way to light and hope, and the world has never been the same. This past Friday afternoon was not the end of the world, but an opportunity for us to deepen our faith and trust in a loving God, of dealing with the pain of loss and of realizing the continued presence of Matt in our lives.
Please pray for Matt ... pray for his Mom and Dad, his younger brothers and his family ... his friends who are young and are not ready to deal with life and death issues ... and pray for the others involved in the accident this past Friday.