The saintly English King, Edward the Confessor, seeing how upset his friends were as he lay on his death-bed, consoled them all by saying; “Don’t be afraid, I’m going from the land of the dying into the land of the living.”
There was something other worldly about Ben.
From early on this lad was different – mature beyond his very young years. Alan and Val, you did so much and you and the family fought so hard. You and the wonderful medics and nurses and carers on both sides of the Atlantic. You can be confident that you did as much as you could for him. Yet, you said it seemed that it was Ben who was taking care of you.
In Michigan Valerie said “I wish I could take your pain for you.” Ben said; “No mammy, I wouldn’t want to give it to you – I can handle it.” There’s not a mother anywhere or a father who wouldn’t swap places in a heartbeat with a sick child. And every dad and mam, and nana and granddad, feels the pain of a child and walks it every step of the way. Ben could handle it because he comes from good stock. You made him what he is and was.
And in truth he was a superhero. He battled hard with the cancer, yet the small boy of five years old, had the power of Ali, or Brogan, or Ronaldo, or McGregor, and we feel his power now.
Whether it was singing “Show me the way to go home” out loud in the hospital and banging out the beat on the table, his favourite movie was Jaws. It was like Brody, Hooper and Quint singing on Quint’s boat the Orca after their tea.
Or singing an Oasis number with his dad Alan in the van. As he faced the sun he cast a shadow.
Or building another Lego empire, sometimes the trips to buy a sneaky box of Lego (hiding it behind his back with that cheeky smile)
Or whether it was Batman. You know, superheroes don’t hang around. They are always at the service of others. Just when we get to know Bruce Wayne the bat phone rings and Wayne dons the bat suit and he’s gone. They are too big for our world. And Perhaps Ben was too much of a force of nature for Planet Earth.
When the rest of us are struggling to stay young – Batman Ben lives forever young.
There’s no answer as to why this had to happen. But maybe we get a glimpse of the next world when we open our eyes, and not necessarily with our eyesight but with our insight. We see more clearly in here. And our faith, the faith what was given to us by our parents and their parents helps us to see in the dark. Faith lights up the dark. Ben is gone to heaven, there is no doubt about that, and we will see him again. You will see Ben again, Val, and Alan, and Jack. Down the road.
But you can connect with him anytime in Jesus Christ who loves us. And this connection point is more powerful than any superfast WIFI. And the signal never drops. But if I know Batman Ben, and you know him best, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you feel his power first, because he’s praying for you now. In the words of Chief Brody, “We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
(I asked Ben's parents, Valerie and Alan for permission to post this, the homily I gave at his funeral Mass this morning)