Homily: Mass of Christian Burial of Atty. Marcos “Boy” Risonar, Davao Memorial Park, 14 June 2017
This afternoon we come together in Eucharistic celebration to lay to rest Atty. Marcos “Boy” Risonar.
It is ironic that in a moment of such intense bereavement we come together in “celebration.” His passing is the painful loss of a son, a father, a husband, a brother, the untimely death of a champion of the poor, a fighter for human rights, an advocate of genuine land reform, a revolutionary driven by a love for the downtrodden and a desire in God’s name to bring justice to each man and each woman in our troubled society. As those who genuinely champion social justice and are willing to pay for it as he did in detention are rare, it is difficult to call this gathering a “celebration.”
Yet that is what it is. God has called Atty. Boy to himself, and though we may wish to re-write his life story to give him more time with us, to allow him to serve his beloved farmers through his labors in the Department of Agrarian Reform a bit more, and to enjoy the care of his mother, the love of his wife, the blossoming of his children, and the smiles, laughter and affection of his grandchildren a bit more, the Lord seems to have had other plans. When his cancer could no longer be contained, God called him to himself, possibly to spare him more pain, or possibly to spare the family more suffering, but more probably simply to bring him earlier to his eternal reward in heaven. Jesus said, whatever he did for the wronged laborer, for the struggling fisherman, for the toiling peasant, for the mother, wife, child or grandchild whom he loved, that he did for him. We celebrate because despite our loss, we are filled with hope that to him the Lord, the Judge of the universe, will say: “Come, you who were blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and your gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. … For whatever you have done to one of these the least of my sisters and brother that you have done to me.” (cf. Mt: 25:31-46).
We gather in celebration. But ours is Eucharistic celebration. Atty. Boy participated in this Eucharistic celebration many times in his life, regularly in the parish church of St. Paul, and recently for the Simbanggabi Novena as Christmas approached in the Chapel of the Assumption of the Ateneo de Davao University. At these Masses that are one with the Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Lord, Atty Boy fulfilled that which his baptism entitled him to do together with the Christian Community: he offered to his Father the Body and Blood of Jesus; he participated in and so became part of the Paschal Mystery by which death is dealt its death blow, so that all who believe in Christ might live not unto death but unto eternal life. Ultimately, this is why, even in our moment of bereavement, we can speak of celebration, Eucharistic celebration. It is through this Eucharist that we know Atty. Boy redeemed, pulled into the life of the Trinity, and one now with the Father and the saints of heaven.
As we lay him to rest, we wish to thank the Father for all the blessings we received through Atty. Boy as a revolutionary, a fighter, a public servant, a loving member of the family, a friend. As we lay him to rest, through the community of the Church, may we not forget his goodness. Instead may we carry on that which God left undone for us to carry on. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers like Atty. Boy are few. Pray God the Lord of the harvest to send us into the fields.