Homily and Song by Father JP on Aug 13, 2012

Homily by Father J.P. Forte at the 13 August 2012 Mass for Ben Horne in San Diego

(Starts by singing “Maintain the Light”)

Maintain the light, hold fast to the truth, and let your spirits soar.

God’s voice calls out to you, so do not turn away,

Just maintain, maintain the light.

Seldom deny, always affirm, the truth that lives in sight,

Listen all my people through life’s dramas and fears,

And maintain, maintain the light.

Do not be afraid to lift up your eyes and see a wider view.

God’s path, it travels to deep golden fields,

So maintain, maintain the light.

Do not be afraid to lift your eyes,

Just maintain, maintain the light.

Just maintain, maintain the light.

There are people in your life that inspire you. There are people in your life that can be interesting, people in your life that can be smart.  But every once in a while there are people in your life that inspire you. They are people who take life seriously. They are people who are not afraid to struggle, to enter into the very journey of life. They are truth seekers.

They are people who are not only attracted to truth, but who are willing to make that journey into truth. And to be changed by truth. Bent and formed and recreated anew by truth.

What do they do when we encounter them? They do the same thing to us. They help us to be a little bit more brave sometimes, a little bit less emotional sometimes, a little bit more reflective sometimes. They invite us not to fear asking deeper questions. They allow us to sit in silence and not to fear boredom or fatigue.

They invite us to walk into God’s vast creation. And to say it is beautiful, but to look around and ask us why it is beautiful? Why has it touched me, impacted me? And to try to articulate that.

There are people in our lives that help us to consider that maybe God can be a reality.

Ben was and is one of these people and I thank you Gary, Chris, Liz, Math, Eric.  I thank you for your brother, your son.  We thank you. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. And although you keep saying oh no, no, it was all Ben.  No, this beautiful formation of love is where that came from.  Yes, God is the source of that, but you have done a lovely, lovely job of cultivating that.  And we thank you for the gift of that in this community.  We thank you deeply for that.

Our hearts are heavy and they are going to be heavy for a while.  And that’s why I love this reading.  Jesus was one of these people, definitely, and people followed him or were changed by him. And yet he was always taking them further.

At His supper He was taking them further. He was saying I need to leave you. I need to leave you. And as difficult as it is for us to understand that… that’s why Thomas says we have no idea where you are going. We have no idea. But Jesus just keeps coming back and saying you have faith, you have faith.

And friends, faith is just not simply an emotional thing. It is not a thing we do until the first drama or first disappointment. The first drama and disappointment take us deeper into faith and help us appreciate life and see the beauty of life.

And that was Ben’s anthem: Life is beautiful! Life is beautiful!  And he invited us to do that through our dramas. Life is beautiful. Come, do something new, do something old!

The boy had rhythm.  Have you ever seen him on the dance floor? It was quite a sight! I thought M&M, I think that it should have been Ben & M, because Ben just was eclectic. To the bone, to the absolute bone, but eclectic with meaning, eclectic with meaning.

It is wonderful to meet people and encounter people in your life that make you smile and that make you pause and that make you feel better. He was one of these people and he lives.  He was a deep, deep believer.  He was very smart, very academic, but very, very faithful.

When I first met him, when he first came here to UCSD, at a talk, I was strolling around outside with a Buddhist monk and Ben walked over and introduced himself. And said, “Hey I came to your church one time and I thought it was cool.” And I said oh, and we began a conversation.  And a conversation turned into a wonderful friendship, a deep friendship.

We talked about many things over many years and as a result of that grew very, very close.  And I loved him and I thank you for that.  Our lives are better when we allow ourselves to love, aren’t they? They’re better.

Our hearts break because we are at the risk of losing people physically, but our readings say that love is eternal because love is God and that God is eternal and so we never ever lose that connection and if Ben taught us anything I hope we remember that.

Because what does Maintain the light mean? What does it mean to maintain the light? Does it mean turning your lights on and off at home?  No. It means having purpose in our lives.  Reaching for higher meaning and not getting tired. And when we get tired, taking a break, but not giving up. Right. Not giving up, taking a break, until we gain our balance once again.  And maybe even learn something while we were falling.

That is what it means to maintain the light, to shine light into our areas of ignorance.  Into areas unknown and to say what is truth, what is beautiful, what is honorable, and am I doing these things?

Not because I’m uptight and repressed.  But because that’s the way to live.  Life has more quality when we live that way.  People are happier when we live that way. People want to be around us when we live that way.  When we are dead, everything around us is dead.  But when we are alive, not even death takes that from us.

Maintain the light.  We maintain the light by taking all of your memories and conversations with Ben and framing them in your mind, in your heart, in your soul, and visiting them and remembering them and living them, becoming them.

That’s how we maintain the light, his light, his grandmother’s light, God’s light.  That is the greatest way that we honor him.

32 years old and yet he would say “I am not very wise.” But definitely on the way.  A wise man.  Let us tonight in a moment of silence try to have one favorite memory or two or three of Ben.  Just take a moment of silence to call that to mind …


… Frame these memories, visit these memories.  That’s how we maintain the light.

(Concludes by singing:)

Maintain the light,

Hold fast to truth,

And let your spirits soar.

God’s path travels out to you on deep golden fields,

So maintain, maintain the light.

Ben, we’ll maintain, we’ll maintain your light.