Fr Eddy’s Homily for Reception into Church and Vigil Mass for Deacon Peter Brogan RIP
In the few minutes that I have available this evening I am not able to give a full account of Peter’s life and ministry, and I am conscious that his children have prepared a eulogy which we will hear at the end of our Mass. However I would like to share a few thoughts based around the readings that Mary and the family have chosen for this Mass.
The First reading (Wisdom 4:7-15) speaks about the virtuous man who dies before his time. Peter was a virtuous man, and by the law of averages we can say that he died before his time. After all, 67 is these days a young age to die, and I am sure that Mary, his children, and his grandchildren, had hopes and indeed reasonable expectations of many more years of Peter’s company. But they, and others, will have heard Peter say on more than one occasion, ‘If the Lord wants me, I am ready’. Although Peter may have died suddenly, he was not unprepared. Perhaps we can truly apply some the sentiments of this reading to him, ‘He has sought to please God, so God has loved him’ … ‘his soul being pleasing to the Lord, he has taken him quickly’ … ‘grace and mercy await the chosen of the Lord, and protection his holy ones’.
The Second Reading (1 John 3:1-2) contains a phrase often used by Peter, ‘we are already the children of God’. This was part of his underlying attitude to life, that we are all
children of God. This helped Peter to welcome and accept all people from a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and faiths. Although quite conventional and even traditional in his own outlook, he would happily interact with anyone that life brought him into contact with. Whether in his working life in the fire service, or his ministry in parish and school, I am sure he would have faced many difficult and challenging situations, and he was able to face them with the faith and confidence that comes from knowing deep down that he and everyone is loved by God. Moreover as this reading reminds us, we can rejoice not only in what we have now, but also in what is promised to us for the future, that ‘we shall see God as he really is’. Our prayer for Peter tonight and tomorrow is that he is already experiencing this reality.
In the Gospel Reading (John 6:51-58) Jesus promises that whoever does ‘eat my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life’. Peter not only attended Mass on a Sunday but he tried
to attend Mass and receive Holy Communion each and every day. When he was working on the school minibuses he would often come into Mass at St Peter and St Paul once he had completed his morning duties. I understand that Peter was at Mass and at Holy Communion here at St Hugh’s on the morning of his death, the best reassurance that he was indeed prepared and ready to meet the Lord when the Lord called him to himself later that day.
The Responsorial Psalm, which is based on Psalm 103, also contains a word for us tonight. Even in our sorrow and sadness we are invited to ‘Bless the Lord and worship his holy name’. Peter’s earthly journey and ministry is over. As a deacon he proclaimed the Gospel in word and deed, he had a heart for the poor and vulnerable, and he assisted at the liturgy of the church as befitted his role as a deacon. He now takes his place in the liturgy of heaven. There he will be ‘blessing the Lord and worshipping his holy name’. I am sure his word to us now would be another of his favourite phrases, ‘God is good!’ and that he would invite us to join with him in singing the praises of God who has safely gathered
Peter to himself and one day will gather us to himself too.