Words for Kevin

Dec 20th, 2005 | By | Category: Sermons



Kevin Coyle – 24th December 1984-15th December 2005

St Matthias’ Church, Killiney, Co Dublin


” When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them” Mark 6:34

No words will be enough for today. Nothing anyone could say would for one moment take away the pain and the heartbreak.

Kevin had his whole life in front of him, so many possibilities, so much potential, so much that could be done.

Kevin was in the first confirmation group when I came to the parish. He was an enthusiastic member of the local Boys’ Brigade Company. He helped establish a youth club. He was liked by everyone who knew him.

Kevin had a job of which he was proud with the Irish Lights. He was surrounded by friends who loved him, whose words last night showed how much they thought of him.

All this life, all the possibilities, so much life left unlived, so many words left unsaid, so much future, and in a moment it was torn away and we don’t have the words to cope with our feelings because all the words in the world are not enough.

We don’t have the words. We stumble forward not making sense of things. We carry on because we know no other way.

Kevin was at a Damien Dempsey concert at the Olympia last Wednesday night. Damien’s secretary said Damien would sing one of his songs for Kevin on the radio today, “Sing all your cares away”

The song goes like this:

“Mary loves the Grouse
hides the bottles round the house
watches chat shows and the soaps
broken hearted but she copes

Michael’s out of work
feels he’s sinking in the murk
he’s unshaven and a mess
finds it hard some days to dress

Stevie smashed the delph
‘cos he can’t express himself
He’s consumed by rage
like his father at his age

Rita’s little child
has a lovely little smile
But this means nothing to her father
‘cos he’s never even seen her

But we sing, sing all our cares away
and we live to fight another day

Joey’s off the gear
he’s been clean for half a year
he gets bored out of his mind
but he’s trying to toe the line

Maggie’s in a chair
’twas joy-ridin’ put her there
she puts the kettle on the boil
and she’s always got a smile

But we sing, sing all our cares away
and we live to fight another day

We grow strong
from it all
We grow strong
or we fall

We grow strong
from it all
We grow strong
or we fall
We grow strong”

Damien’s lyrics are uncompromising. Maybe this morning we share that feeling. We cannot comprehend what has happened; there is no way of explaining, and there is no comfort to be found. We carry on and we live to fight another day.

I think Jesus of Nazareth would have understood the feeling. When the word “compassion” appears in the Gospels it doesn’t mean that he was gentle and caring, it means, literally translated, he had a feeling in his guts.

There were things that even Jesus doesn’t put into words, he doesn’t try to explain, he doesn’t try to smooth things over, he just stands with people and shares their pain.

Our grief today is something we feel physically. It’s the panic that closes in on our lungs; it’s the emptiness in the pit of our stomach; it’s the pounding of thoughts that fill our head and won’t go away; it’s the bitter sting of tears that just keep coming.

Jesus has compassion for us, not in nice words or in holy thoughts, but in having felt what it is that we feel inside us.

Christmas is not about a nice, cosy story, it’s about the person we believe who is out there breaking into our time and space and sharing our moments; sharing moments like those in Damien Dempsey’s song, sharing moments like the blackness and emptiness and the numbness of this morning.

We try to sing our cares away, not to forget them, but because we live in hope of something better; we trust that at the end there is something that makes sense of this life, we trust that there is someone out there who helps us grow strong and who doesn’t let us fall.

Kevin, we carry on to fight another day. We carry on despite the pain and despite having no words to express one fraction of what we feel. We carry on in the hope that God is there walking beside us; we carry on in the hope that one day, Kevin, we will see you again.

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