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posted: 8/23/2012 9:34 PM

Priest's homily for Megan: 'No one can replace her.'

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Editor's note: Megan Boken's family asked that no media be present during her funeral Thursday, a request the Daily Herald honored. The newspaper asked Rev. Daniel Hoehn of St, Michael Catholic Church to pass along afterward the key points he delivered in his homily during the service.

In the face of such a tragedy, there can be a number of responses. One of them can be to question the existence of God; to say, "If something so obviously wrong can happen, then how can there be a God?" In fact, the existence of evil is the number one answer given by atheists when asked the reason for their unbelief.

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But to point to something and say, "This is wrong" actually presupposes some underlying presumption that things should proceed in a certain way; that there is some universally agreed upon "right" way, verses a "wrong" way.

If, in fact, there is no God, then everything is the result of blind random chance; the result of a "Big Bang", or whatever theory you choose to propose. If everything is the result of blind, random chance, like tea leaves on the bottom of a cup, or like confetti on the ground that has been thrown in the air, then it would be very strange to say, "Hey, these tea leaves are out of order", or "Hey, this confetti did form of a design.

The fact that we all recognize that something is wrong -- that some order has been disrupted -- is evidence of a universal presumption that there is order in the universe. And if there is order, then there must be an Orderer.

Our sorrow has many dimensions. Part of the sorrow comes from the knowledge that we will never see her smile again, never hear her laugh, or experience the many ways in which she showed love to her family and friends.

But these qualities of Megan are just qualities; other people can smile; other people can laugh and show love. What makes the sorrow all the more acute is the absolute unique and unrepeatability of Megan.

With some seven billion people on the face of the earth, we are not going to look for a replacement for Megan. There is no such person; no one can replace her. The pain we feel is because of this knowledge. But the pain that we now feel also reveals the surprising depth of our love for her; a pain her parents could not have imagined before she was born.

Sure, when they were first married they could have imagined themselves as parents -- and what it would be like to have kids -- but they never could have imagined Megan specifically. They could never have imagined the pain they feel today, because they could never have imagined the uniqueness of Megan. God surprised them by giving them a gift beyond their dreams.

Why do we doubt that he can do it again? As painful as this loss is, can we not trust that, just as he gave us more than we ever could have wanted or expected, that what he has in store for Megan -- and for us -- is beyond our ability to imagine?

"Eye has not seen, and ear has not heard." Just as the grain of wheat is nothing compared to the full-grown plant, so, too, as beautiful and loving and awesome as Megan was in this life, these qualities will pale in comparison to the Megan who awaits us now. Until that day when we are with her again, may we trust that God will sustain us with his love in the difficult days and weeks and years ahead.

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