The following is the homily Cardinal Dolan delivered at the Funeral Mass for Lt. Michael Davidson in St. Patrick’s Cathedral March 27.
This funeral Mass is about two extraordinarily significant people, two people we know and love very, very much.
The first of these two people happens to be the second Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, God the Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Every Mass, certainly every funeral Mass, is an act of faith in this Person, true God, and true man, Jesus Christ. We would not be here without at least the hint of that faith.
This is the Jesus who taught, “Do not let your hearts be troubled; have faith in God my father, have faith in me.”
This is the Savior who said, “The one who believes in me will not die, but will have eternal life.”
This is the Christ who proclaimed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
This is the Redeemer who told us, “I have come to bring life, life in abundance, life forever.”
This is the Messiah who dared claim, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
This is the Jesus who, by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, opened the gates of heaven and won for us the victory of eternal life, the saving events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday we commemorate this week we call holy.
Faith in Him offers us about the only hope, consolation, and dream we can muster on a morning we are tempted to discouragement, doubt, crushing sadness, and nightmare.
This faith is what Michael’s dad, Robert Davidson, had in mind when he whispered to me at the wake Palm Sunday, “What would we do without faith, family, friends, and the fire department?”
Person #1: Jesus Christ!
And person #2: For whom this venerable cathedral is jammed this Tuesday of Holy Week: Lt. Michael Davidson.
Never did I meet this hero, but now I, along with this entire teeming city, feel we know him so well.
A son, brother, and friend; a loyal, tender, loving husband to Eileen and his four children; a son-in-law, neighbor, parishioner, and a firefighter, whose blood contained the DNA of the FDNY, whose service as a fireman was a vocation, hardly a job; a man whose name radiates goodness, valor, and virtue as radiantly as the badge he wears sparkles.
Two people: Jesus Christ, Michael Davidson.
Both we love; both we praise; both we trust; both we thank ...one we miss.
My friends in Christ; my friends in Michael:
Jesus and Michael have a lot in common!
Michael might blush to hear that, but say it we do. Think about it:
Jesus taught, “Greater love than this no one has than to lay down his life for another.” Jesus did that, so did Lt. Davidson;
Jesus came to give life and save life; so did Firefighter Michael Davidson.
Jesus reminded us, “Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it remains but a kernel; once it dies, it flourishes and provides much fruit:” Michael now knows that.
The Sunday before he died, Michael and his beautiful family would have heard his parish priest, Father Tom Fusco, the pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish, proclaim the gospel where the foreigners came to Jerusalem and beseeched Phillip the apostle, “We would like to see Jesus.” So would we...and we beheld a glimpse of Him in Michael’s life and death.
Then, get this: the day Michael died, we heard at Mass the first reading from the Prophet Daniel, the famous episode where King Nebuchadnezzar cast the three faithful Jews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, into the white-hot furnace. Their crime: refusal to deny their faith in the one true God.
Soon even the pagan ruler was astonished when he and his court beheld the three men walking around the fire unsinged, and saw a fourth person protecting and guiding them, leading the King to exclaim, “But I see four men walking in the fire, completely unhurt; and the fourth looks like a ‘Son of God’!”
The Son of God: Jesus and Michael, fighting a fire. Jesus came to save us from everlasting flames; Michael to rescue us from earthly ones.
“We adore Thee, O Christ, and we praise Thee, because by Thy Holy Cross Thou hast redeemed the world.”
We thank you, dear Lord, for the gift of Michael Davidson, who by his life and death gave us a glimpse of you.
Eternal rest grant to him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen. May his soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed, especially the fallen of the FDNY, rest in peace.