Sunday, March 03 2024

Emanuel Michael Nicholas Gahagan Eulogy

My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am sharing this eulogy with you not for the sole reason that a copy of the text was requested. But more importantly because it a real life story that contains several elements that may benefit in different ways each one of us.

After all, our Christian ministry is real and true when it touches people and heals their vulnerability and brokenness through the power of Jesus Christ.

While I have not had an in-depth relationship with God’s servant Michael or Emanuel Nicholas as he pointed out wanting to make sure that I prayed for him using his preferred name “Emanuel Nicholas” and even though the first time we met was the last time we ever spoke; I was privileged to be present and to witness a beautiful part of his life story; his reunion with his children Billy and Sammy.

Sammy, his younger son’s post on his facebook page announcing the death of his father was short but a powerful and heartfelt message. It is an exemplary message that is needed a lot nowadays to be heard and imitated by many who needlessly suffer from broken relationships within their families and their former friends.

Sammy wrote; “Many of you know that my relationship with [my dad] wasn’t the best; however after 13 years he and I saw each other and spoke in September. … I was able to tell my father I loved him and that I forgave him. My father was a very liked man and my last moments with him, sitting with my theo Pete Perakis, theo Tasso Kiriakes, and brother Billy Gahagan talking, laughing and smiling for hours is how I will try and remember him.”

The powerful lesson in this story stems from the element that it is real and tangible. It happened in front of our eyes just like many other stories that happen every day within our surrounding as we witness the agony of many families who struggle against the very same brokenness.

The beautiful element in this story is that at the end; anger did not prevail and could not declare its victory. This story is touching because it proves that people do not have to remain powerless hostages tied through the bond of their angry or hurt feelings.

As the priest of this community I felt overjoyed when an outpouring of grace flowed among us because love prevailed, forgiveness of mutual hurt occurred and separated family members were able to restore back to love and unity. Any healing and reunion of broken families that takes place within any family is a part of the healing of the entire parish as it is a part of healing of our entire world.

As long as we continue to hold the power of love within us and prevent it from working freely inside us, we will continue to be a fragmented world, at odd with each other, and our souls cannot know or obtain peace. Unless we learn how to pray for our enemies as we have been commanded by the Lord; our souls will continue to be dry and lifeless like a “Parched Land” (Psalms 107:35) as they cannot be watered by the divine grace of God because of our attitude.

When the Lord taught us to pray for our enemies, he had pointed out to us the blessed way that can lead us to feel love and obtain compassion for those that our eyes could no longer see their inner beauty or the goodness that is hidden inside them.

Our world is already broken and fragmented, is there any further need to break and shatter it into more pieces? Our world suffers from unbearable pain; is there any need to cause it further and worse pain? Pain and hurt can only bring and generate more worse pain and hurt. But love and forgiveness can invite the awesome healing grace of God to come and fill our world with joy and peace.

Is it not a wonderful thing after all that this reunion took place allowing your hearts to rejoice by being able to look each other in the eye while you became free from regrets? Is this not an act of divine providence that led you to stand here today feeling gratitude to God for making the right decision to reconcile with your dad and as his children to care for his funeral properly? Do you have a sense of relief after realizing that years from now you won’t have any regrets when you look back and reflect in your heart on today?

As I thank God for this wonderful ending, I want to commend you for making some difficult decisions and for taking steps beyond your comfort zones to reach out to your dad. Admitting that we are vulnerable and broken, and accepting that we do carry part of the blame in any difficult situation that we live through, and confessing that we are not completely faultless is our key toward freedom and liberation from our sins.

This funeral has been a wonderful experience and a great lesson to me. It was an awesome thing to watch the divine grace of God entering your souls helping you in all things, and showing you the way that is pleasing to God through your obedience.

Saint Silouan the Athonite speaks about the power of love that produces this type of miracles and expels every demonic influence out of our lives saying; “If you pray for your enemies, peace will come to you… Whereas if you revile your enemies, it means there is an evil spirit living in you bringing evil thoughts into your heart, for, in the words of the Lord, ‘Out of the heart proceed evil thoughts or good thoughts.”

Let us thank God on your behalf for your wonderful example of being attentive to the prompt of God, for your obedience going beyond your comfort zone, and let us pray that more people will take courage and follow this same example and reconcile with their families and friends. As the Lord said; you may go in peace, your faith set you free.