Coming Home — Funeral Homily for Michael “Mike” Morning, 69

The communities of St. Paul’s and St. John the Baptist’s offer you our sympathy at Mike’s passing. We also offer the support of our prayers with this, Jesus Christ’s perfect offering to the Father, in the Holy Mass. May our prayers help Mike on his way, and help all of you as well, whom he dearly loved and dearly loves; especially Jackie, whom he married at St. John the Baptist Church 43 years ago, and his siblings, his friends, his nieces and nephews, grandchildren and godchildren, and others.

I often say that no brief funeral homily can capture the full mystery of a Christian life, and you who have known Mike for years surely know him better than I. The best I can do is to examine one part of his life which reflects something of the whole story for Mike, and you, and me.

Among the many things Mike did on earth, he had an active role in establishing the Eagleton Softball and Baseball fields. If you don’t know it, Eagleton is a small, unincorporated town to the southeast from here, seven and a half miles down the road. Their baseball field is no Major League park like Wrigley or Fenway, but Mike was right to be proud of it. He looked at what he had made and saw that it was good. With outfield fences some 250 feet out, lights for nighttime play, four bases and a mound; it had everything needed to host the game.

Baseball and softball are somewhat unique among sports. In most sports, the offense side carries, catches, throws, or kicks the ball to score. But baseball and softball are among the few games where the defense side controls the ball. Batters who are up don’t exactly know what pitches will be thrown their way, but they get to choose their swings. Some of them advance, but many strike out.

A good coach can help them though; giving them signs and instructions on which pitches to swing at and which pitches to take, and, once on base, when and how to advance further. Through his past experience as a player, his intimate knowledge of the game, and his personal investment in training his players, a great coach can produce hall of famers. In addition to the indispensable coach, teammates are important too, in helping to get home.

As it is in baseball and softball so it is in life. We do not control what’s thrown our way, what curveballs come across the plate, but we each must decide how to swing in our at bat. Will we listen to the wisdom of our coach, who has been in our shoes himself, and who earnestly desires that after forming us in his likeness that we could be called up to the big leagues far from here.

Jesus encourages us in today’s gospel, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me.” If we would listen and allow him, Jesus promises to lead us home, and tells us we know the way. “I am the way and the truth and the life,” he says, “No one comes to the Father except through me.”

In baseball and softball as in life, our goal is to get home. Mike might already be there with the holy hall of famers in Heaven, but in case he is still rounding the bases, let us as his teammates and friends aid him in getting home through our prayers. And may each of us heed and follow Christ our coach and play this one pivotal game of life so as to win.

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