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I remember well the first time I met Father Charles. Of course, before I had met him, I had heard lots about him. In all the stories, I was struck by how every account, to a person, reacted with warmth, compassion and love for Charles. By the time I met him, he already had a reputation developed in my own mind as to who my new Honorary Assistant would be. It didn’t take long, and in indeed, from my first visit with Fr. Charles I was struck by the warmth, compassion and genuine-ness that permeated from him. As you know, when you meet Fr. Charles you are captured and swept up with his love of life and interest in you as a person. His laugh, oh his laugh is one that is contagious. He was the priests priest and when you were in his presence, you knew, you just knew that everything was going to be okay.

Jesus says, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” We must be careful not to interpret “meek” as being weak or submissive. Rather “meek” in the context of today’s Gospel means not being overwhelming or dominant. It is about living in harmony in community. In Charles we meet a priest, husband, father, grandfather and friend who was unwavering in his faithfulness to participate in God’s story in whatever way God called him to serve. Perhaps, one of his strongest characteristics as a priest was his ability to be unwavering in focussing on the ordinary of everyday and finding the holy and the divine in the ordinary.

read an article recently on Facebook - so it must be true - that speaks to some of what I have been saying here. The author, Craig Barnes, mentions that God, “created routine and loves to watch it unfold over and over again. This should make some sense to us that God loves routine, because that is where you and I live. We, along with our parish of Upper Lonsdale, North Vancouver, country and world live in routine. Our liturgy and worship is based on rhythm and routine. We cannot function effectively without our routines and therefore it is small wonder that it is in the practice of our routines where we will find God again and again. Fr. Charles, with sincerity and truth held before us the Holy and Divine in the ordinary of everyday. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

From his active and vibrant ministry through to his retirement Charles had a deep sense of gratitude. This permeated from every fibre of his being. He was grateful to be a priest, for the ministry he had, the relationships formed and the opportunity to participate in God’s story. His gratitude is an inspiration and legacy that will continue to live in us. To be grateful for the lives we have, the people who have helped shape us along the way and to be able to participate in all we do with a sense of gratitude. That we should never take anything for granted and that in the final analysis, we are only here for a moment in time. So lets make our moment count.  

Jesus offers to us in our Gospel today a blue print of what it means to be a part of Kingdom of God. What it means to be a part of community and in relationship with one another. These are principles that we are called to live into through our Baptism. These are qualities that Charles lived out in his baptismal ministry with us.

Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. While our laughter, tears and grief is real, we gather today as friends and family to celebrate a life well lived. We come to share our memories and stories. In this way Charles continues to live in our hearts as we begin a new chapter in our relationship with him and all who have gone before us.  

Today is not a day to say goodbye or seek closure - whatever that is supposed to mean. Rather today, the reason why we gather in this way is to give thanks that Charles has been a part of our story and to give him back to God for he first came to us as a gift from God. And so it is time. It is time to say, “Thank you Charles. Thank you for everything on a life well lived. Well done thy good and faithful servant, well done! Now go and inherit the Kingdom that is prepared for you and until we meet again, may God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”