Today, the tears fall like warm drops of sad friends, dropping from the skies - to take our hearts away from us.
Our tears connect us to Jon. But he is not here. He has gone on, forward, always forward.
Jon was a warrior, our kind of man.
We bouyed him with our courage and he bouyed us with his faith. We would pray for him and he would smile.
We so wanted the pain to go away, the suffering, the fear. Sometimes it was all just too much to bear. But Jon knew something many of us did not. He knew that as sure as the sun will rise in the east, that God's love surrounded him, surrounded us and would wash away his pain and suffering when He took Jon into His arms.
Twenty-Seven years: that's hardly enough time for a man to make his mark on this planet. But, Jon made his mark on our hearts.
Death? Jon was not afraid of Death. Jon had become so familiar with Death that he could spot Death at Starbucks trying to buy a latte incognito with a baseball cap on. "Death, hey man? What you doing here? You don't think anyone will recognize you?"
"Aw man, Jon, can't you give me a break? I can't even get a cup of coffee and you tell everyone I'm here?" Jon would strike up a conversation and Death would walk away, grateful to have shared time with one of the greats, and would always say to Jon, "I don't wanna, Jon. But I've gotta. It will be soon. You are just too sick and the Big Man needs you upstairs." Jon would say, "Ok, man, but I'm gonna fight like my Fighting Irish. Pass Right. Don't expect to just walk into the endzone uncontested. You've got to go through me - and the Irish."
Jon had a lot of friends - a lot of friends he never met. There's this place called ND Nation. It's a Notre Dame message board and people there loved to hear about Jon and his nickname "FHSU". One guy would always post "warrior" after his initials. FHSU warrior. Jon was a warrior.
Every day that he fought this disease he strapped on the armor of a warrior and fought the good fight. He did not give up. His spirit did not quit. His friends stood behind him. His family stood behind him. His thousands of Notre Dame friends stood behind him.
And now, Jon is standing alongside other warriors, in a new place. A place where there is no pain. A place where love shines all around like a golden glow. A place where our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and his Holy Mother have taken Jon in and set a place for him at the table of eternal happiness.
Surely, this side of life is glorious. It is where we are born; where we grow up with our families; where we go to school; skin our shin when we fall off our bike; where we fall in love for the first time - where our heart is broken for the first time; and where we learn the difference between tears of love, tears of pain, tears of rage, tears of loneliness.
But on this side of life, we also learn the value of life - that life is so very fragile, that it can be snuffed out in an instant. And this makes it more precious than anything. All the riches in the world cannot compare with the value of one human soul. Each soul is precious and unique and we are all diminished by the loss of each soul.
We, today, glorify the new resurrection of Jon's soul into paradise but we mourn his loss - his temporary loss - to us.
The word "paradise" is a Persian word for "garden". In ancient Iran, a dry and dusty place, wealthy people would build their homes, enclosing them off from the street with a central garden in the middle, a courtyard.
This walled off garden was called a "paradise" and was a place to refresh their bodies and their souls.
We often think of Heaven as a glorious garden, a place of green beauty and flowers. Maybe it is. I don't know.
But it is a place where Jon's soul will be complete and refreshed because he will be in the presence of God's love, a presence that will complete him and soothe his broken body and take all his pain away.