Washington, D.C. Newsroom, May 24, 2022 / 11:39 am (CNA).
Roberta Drury, one of the victims of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, was remembered at her funeral Mass on Saturday for her many admirable qualities, including her “smile that could light up a room.”
A White gunman killed 10 Black people on May 14 at a supermarket. Another three persons were injured in the shooting.
According to her obituary, “Robbie” Drury, 32, had been living in Buffalo for 10 years, caring for her brother, who is recovering from leukemia.
During his homily at Drury’s May 21 funeral Mass at Assumption Catholic Church in Syracuse, New York, Father Nicholas Spano, O.F.M. Conv., said Christ’s disciples have the mission of reflecting the light of God, adding that Drury “embraced this mission” and “lived it every day.”
Spano said that Drury “reflected God’s love every time she cared for her brother, every time she greeted someone in her neighborhood around her street, every time she talked with friends and family she was that light that shown through whatever darkness might have been present.”
“Roberta had a perseverance and a tenacity that was both inspirational and enviable,” Spano said at the Mass. “Because of what she experienced, she was able to be the instrument of God’s peace as she became that light in the darkness.”
Spano said that “There are no words to fully express the depth and breadth of this tragedy.” He added that on the day of the shooting “our corner of the world was changed forever. Lives ended. Dreams shattered. And our state was plunged into mourning.”
Spano said that Drury has “left us a lasting gift,” which is “her example of being light in the darkness.”
“So, as we go forth from this place we’re challenged by our faith and by Roberta’s example to be a light in this world,” he said.
Spano noted that some have questioned “in their grief, where was God?”
“My brothers and sisters, as Christians, we believe that God was there. God was present, as he always is with them in their moments of suffering,” he answered. “He himself, suffering, alongside those killed by hate, violence, and evil.”
“Roberta and her companions did not die alone nor in the absence of love,” he said. “But rather in that tragic moment, were ushered into the hands of a loving God. In an instant they moved from this imperfect world, to a place of peace and light.”
“We can say this,” he added, “because we believe in a God who not only took on our humanity at the moment of his incarnation, but ultimately embraced the darkest dimensions of humanity on Good Friday.”
Spano said that “to us our loved ones appear dead, but they are now alive with God.”
Reflecting on the Mass’s scripture reading from the eleventh chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Spano said that “Jesus leaves us with those words of assurance and hope that in him and in him alone, we find our rest.”
He continued: “Rest from our struggles, rest from our pain, rest from our suffering. In that moment when we cross over into the eternal light of Jesus, we enter into a place where love [is] experienced to an unparalleled proportion, hate is forever banished and suffering is no more.”
Spano questioned “As a family, as a church, as New Yorkers, how do we as people of faith respond to the reality of darkness in our world?”
He answered by citing the late civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who “once wrote: ‘darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that.’”
Spano also said that Christ’s call to forgiving others is “echoed in the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: ‘forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a permanent attitude.’”
Spano said that for Catholics “memory is a crucial aspect of our faith. For us to remember is not only to keep alive but to make present. We enter into this mystery … every time we celebrate the Eucharist.”
“It’s in the Eucharist that we see the power of memory,” he said. “When we celebrate the Lord’s meal, and we do it in memory of him, we make present the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus in our midst, the entire Paschal Mystery at once,” he said.
“Each time we think of Roberta remembering her kindness, remembering her love for family and friends, her perseverance, her tenacity, and most of all that smile that could light up a room,” he said, “we make present once again that reality.”
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