By Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley
Note: Fr. Buckley delivered the following homily on April 15, 2013, the fourth anniversary of the death of Thomas Thomas Aquinas College’s third president, Dr. Thomas E. Dillon.
Just prior to this Gospel (John 17:24-6), where Jesus prays to the Father, He says “My hour has come.” Remember that earlier He told his mother, “My hour has not yet come.” But now His hour has come, and this hour is an hour in which the Father will glorify Him, and that’s not for some egocentric, selfish reason by any means. It is the glory that takes place through the Cross and the Resurrection, and this glory is a glory that Jesus asks that we have as well.
There’ something rather stirring about this part of the passage, it seems to me, and that is that we know Jesus frequently prayed that the Father’s will be done. “May Thy will be done” — He says that, of course, during the Agony in the Garden. But here He says, “I wish that where I am they also will be with Me.” In other words, He is praying to the Father that His will be done, and His will is that we be united with Him and share in the glory of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. That’s an extraordinary thing to think of, and it’s extraordinary also when we’re reminded that He says, “The love with which You love me may be in them and I in them.”
And this really is our destiny. This is the destiny that He has given to us. That’s extraordinary. When we want to share our love with someone, we want to be with that person; we want perfect communion, communication. This is what the Lord prays will be given to us.
In this Mass, in which we commemorate the life and the death of Thomas Dillon — an extraordinary man — we are reminded of the fact that he, who was a firm believer, is one who is sharing in the glory of Christ, whether this be the full glory in Heaven, or whether he is still waiting in Purgatory. If the latter is the case, we pray that he will be released soon. But we pray nevertheless, in thanksgiving to Almighty God at this time when we mourn Dr. Dillon’s passing, that he is with the Lord, that Jesus’ prayer for him is being answered by the Father.
We pray also that this will be the fate of each and every one of us as well. And we pray as the Apostles preached in the first reading (Acts 10:34-43), to all of the people, that this is precisely why Christ died. As we see in the second reading, too, what this love of God means for each and every one of us, and how it will be fulfilled when we see Him in glory face to face.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, amen.
Dr. Dillon in prayer