You got it, Peter! You really understood! The first reading said it well, “For the age that is honorable comes not with the passing of time, nor can it be measured in terms of years.”
If someone had asked you who you were imitating, who you were like, you probably would nothave said, “Jesus Christ”; but somehow, thanks in part to your family and your upbringing, thanks to the goodness God placed in you--you got it! Even from the time you were a young child, I am told, you wanted to be a man in uniform, you wanted to serve.
Many today don’t even ask the question. Many just ask, “What would bring me pleasure?” “What can I get?” They don’t ask, “What can I give?” “How can I make a difference?” “How can I make others safe?”
I won’t suggest you were perfect. I don’t think any of us are. But you were clearly a person on the right track. As we look back on your life we can see many ways in which you remind us of Christ. That, I think is why your wife, Ashley and your sister, Melissa, chose the Gospel passage we know as the Beatitudes. They represent the most concise summary of what it means to be a follower of Christ. As such the Beatitudes also serve as a description of Christ himself who is our living model of a person who is faithful to God.
We heard Jesus say, “Blessed are the meek.” You were meekin the sense of the humility necessary to poke fun at yourself to bring a smile to the face of your family and friends. You served your family and did your work quietly without seeking to call attention to yourself.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” You certainly hungered and thirsted for righteousness, for justice. You wanted to protect the innocent and get the guilty off the streets.
“Blessed are the peacemakers.” You were a peacemaker, trying to resolve disputes and calm situations.
And, yes, you were “persecuted for the sake of righteousness.” The brutal and unprovoked attack you endured is not unlike that suffered by the Lord Jesus in whom you trusted. Jesus is the One who is completely righteous, completely innocent, and he was brutally beaten, nails were pounded through his hands and feet and he was hung upon a cross to die.
Yes, Peter, you might not have claimed it, but you became in so many ways like our Savior. He is a Savior who also said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” You did that for our entire community which you loved.
For this reason we will trust Jesus now. We will put you gently into his loving arms to hold you up and guide you safely to your heavenly home.
And we will also assure you, Peter, that we will as a community come together and care for your family: for Ashley, your wife and Natalie, your daughter, for your Dad, Luis, and your Mom, Esther, for your brother, Louieand your sister, Melissa. We will be there for all your relatives, for your friends and for your brothers in law enforcement as they carry on the courageous work you did so well. As we heard in the Gospel all these are also called “Blessed”because they are very poor in spiritright now due to your passing. They are the “Blessed”who mournnow and this whole El Paso community with them.
We will all be strengthened by the Faith that as Christ has promised we hope to see you again one day when having completed ourjourney through life we will share good times together in a place where justice and righteousness will reign, where pain and separation will be no more, where the Blessedwill gather, in the never-ending banquet of heaven.
Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz