Fr Sean taught his colleagues to ‘make the best of things’
Homily for the Month’s Mind Mass for Fr Sean O’Driscoll, celebrated at St Michael’s Church, Rathbarry, Cork (Sean’s native parish) on 3 September 2013: homily based on John 15: 9-17.
The Gospel I just read is one of those given for the Sacrament of Ordination — and it’s all about love — and more specifically about the form of love most likely to give a priest a whole and happy life — that is friendship. We’re here because we’re friends of Sean’s.
“You did not choose me, no, I chose you“, said the Lord. Sean did the same. We’re friends of Sean’s not because we chose to be — no, he chose us to be his friends. And whatever relationship we had with Sean — parishioner, colleague, classmate, family, even those closest — friendship was the most important part of the relationship, the primary part — and for that, we are grateful.
The Gospel starts with the Father’s love: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.” And as Eoin so beautifully described it at Sean’s Funeral Mass*, it was the total and unconditional love that God had for Sean, God’s full acceptance of him as he was, that was the rock on which everything was built.
This loving God sent Sean out —as the Gospel puts it: “I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last“. Sean’s life and friendships have borne fruit in many beautiful and often unexpected ways — where he ministered, where he lived, where his friends are, there, his memory is cherished. He lives in art and beauty — joy now complete, as the Gospel promises.
For us, his friends, there is something we can learn and carry with us. Whatever situation Sean found himself in, he made the best of things. Who ever made the best of the Third World (working as a missionary in Peru) as well as Sean — or school ministry, or hospital chaplaincy, or parish? He made the best of cancer. And he even made the best of dying — just as he made the best of living. There’s something there for all of us to learn and carry with us.
The Gospel and this homily ends with the simple command — the way Sean would want his friends to live: “What I command you”, says Jesus, “is to love one another“.
*The Funeral Mass was held on 8 August 2013 in the parish where Sean served as pastor, at the Church of the Resurrection, Farranree, Cork, on which occasion his friend and classmate Eoin Whooley preached the homily.