Homily for the Funeral of Janine Sutto



Does it not seem, at times, that death is like the curtain that falls at the end of a play?

It separates us much like the way it separates spectators and actors who have just experienced and shared beautiful moments together. We certainly know that, sooner or later, the curtain will fall on the lives of our loved ones as it will on ours. To us, death may seem like the final curtain call, bringing an end to both life and love.

Janine Sutto embraced an active, full life, never slowing down, up to the very end. On her long journey, she never stopped learning, serving and building, suffering and forgiving, loving and being present, as much as she possibly could, to her family and friends.

There have been numerous testimonies of admiration and affection shared both in the media and during the lying in state at Montreal City Hall. Even today, dear family and friends of Janine, here and via television, we are gathered in recognition of such a generous life and as an expression of our support during this time of mourning.

In this world, is death the end of life and love? When the time came for Jesus to leave this world, we know that he suffered a horrendous death, here he was in Bethany, six days before the "Passover" -- like today on this Holy Monday, which will lead us to Easter Sunday -- partaking in a family meal with friends, which fortified him.

In the Gospel, we read that Mary, the sister of Lazarus, did not hesitate to break an alabaster jar, filled with a costly perfume made of pure nard, which she poured over the feet of Jesus. She gave of what she held dear to express her appreciation for the Lord's infinite love for her and for the world. She foresaw Jesus' death, but she believed that he was the resurrection and the life, in that way her grief yielded to hope.

For Janine, what filled her life most with joy was her children, her twin daughters, with whom she was always very close. By their existence alone, they fortified her soul. She considered that her most beautiful and most meaningful roles in life were those as mother and grandmother. Through these roles, she felt her heart expanding with unconditional love.

In the Gospel, Mary's simple gesture of anointing Jesus' feet with perfume seemed foolish in the eyes of the world, but, as an act of love and hope, it was by far the most significant. When Jesus cried aloud as he died on the cross, he tore the curtain of death, and the stage opened up to a view that includes both heaven and earth. The curtain that falls at the end of our lives no longer has the last word; death has been transformed into a passage to eternal life. Prayer keeps us firm in the hope that we will meet again in eternity.

This is what we are celebrating today at Janine's funeral, and what the entire Church will jubilantly proclaim this Sunday: Love is victorious and will never end. The curtain of death is torn; life and love have a future in eternity. Let us take a few moments of silence to present Janine Sutto, as well as our grieving hearts, to our consoling Father.

+ Christian Lépine
Archbishop of Montreal

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