Heaven gained back one of her prizes today. I attended the funeral of a man most notably known around Our Lady of Joy and St. Gabriel parishes as MAX. Max was an affable man in his early 70s who made it his life's mission to bring joy and gladness to others...unwittingly!
The story goes that Max was involved in a rather harrowing military accident that by all accounts, he should have never lived through. The event left Max with a limpy gate and a speech impediment that I always mistook for a form of autism. You could tell when Max was at Mass (which was almost every day) by the jingle of his dog tags and his HAPPY-ness. (And the extremely loud sneeze). Max was always the first to volunteer for any form of activity and the last to leave from any event. He accompanied us on Rosary Sunday bus rides downtown and was usually in the office before any of us to grab that first cup of Joe. No one else was allowed into the coveted staff sanctuary to do this, mind you, unless you were Max! He had a charm about him that surpassed all of the passing greatness of most codgers his age and a smile that could knock your socks off.
I've known Max personally for over 2 years. It took him 18 months to learn my name. He frequently came down to the choir area after Mass and would clap musingly for Robbie and I when we had finished the closing hymn. Max was a consummate music lover and he always made us feel more than appreciated. On his daily rounds up at the office cup O Joe run, he would usually visit and if I was not at my desk, he would leave me a yellow sticky note with the words scribbled out: "Hi Karen! MAX"
Today at Max's funeral Mass, the most laudible scripture passage was chosen for him by his family. It properly identified Max's essence and how he lived his life:
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
I Cor 13
What a human treasure in earthly sums. We may not have always understood Max's words due to his impairment, however we all knew him by his actions. What a great lesson Max has been for me and for countless others who knew & loved him. I think I will strive to be like him.
May choirs of angels come to greet you...
Miss you, Max! Karen