The firemen took his body and because they respected and loved him so much, they didn’t want to leave it in the street. So, they quickly carried it into a church and not just left it in the vestibule, they went up the center aisle. They put the body in front of the altar. They covered it with a sheet. And on the sheet, they placed his stole and his fire badge. And then they knelt down and they thanked God. And then they rushed back to continue their work. And so, in my mind … I picture Mychal Judge’s body there in that church in the sanctuary, realizing that the firefighters brought him back to the Father in the Father’s house. And the words that come to me, “I am the Good Shepherd, and the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep … Greater love than this no man hath than to lay down his life for his friends. And I call you my friends.” … And so I make this statement to you this morning that Mychal Judge has always been my friend. And now he is also my hero. Mychal Judge’s body was the first one released from Ground Zero. His death certificate has the number one on the top … and I meditated on that fact of the thousands of people that we are going to find out who perished in that terrible holocaust … Why was Mychal Judge number one? And I think I know the reason. I hope you’ll agree with me. Mychal’s goal and purpose in life at that time was to bring the firemen to the point of death, so they would be ready to meet their maker. There are between two and three hundred firemen buried there, the commissioner told us last night. Mychal Judge could not have ministered to them all. It was physically impossible in this life but not in the next. And I think that if he were given his choice, he would prefer to have happened what actually happened. He passed through the other side of life, and now he can continue doing what he wanted to do with all his heart. And the next few weeks, we’re going to have names added, name after name of people, who are being brought out of that rubble. And Mychal Judge is going to be on the other side of death … to greet them instead of sending them there. And he’s going to greet them with that big Irishsmile … he’s going to take them by the arm and the hand and say, “Welcome, I want to take you to my Father.” … And so, he can continue doing in death what he couldn’t do in life … And so, this morning … we come to bury Mike Judge’s body but not his spirit. We come to bury his mind but not his dreams. We come to bury his voice but not his message. We come to bury his hands but not his good works. We come to bury his heart but not his love. Never his love. And so, I think … we his family, friends and those who loved him should return the favor that he so often did to us. All of us have felt his big hands at a blessing that he would give to us. I think right now, it would be so appropriate if we called on what the liturgy tells us we are, a royal priesthood and a holy nation. And we … give Mychal a blessing as he returns to the Father. So, I’d ask you now could you all please stand. And could you raise your right hand and extend it towards my friend Mychal and repeat after me. Mychal, may the Lord bless you. May the angels lead you to your Savior. You are a sign of his presence to us. May the Lord now embrace you. And hold you in his love forever. Rest in peace. Amen.
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