On behalf of Maria Cox and all of Steve’s family members, I want to express my gratitude for your presence. My name is Fr. Phil Bloom, pastor of Holy Family Parish, and with me are my parochial vicar, Fr. Ramon Velasco and our deacon, Ted Wiese.
Holy Family Parish and School have been an integral part of White Center for over eighty years. I have lived in White Center for twelve years now and I represent parishioners who have lived their entire lives in this community. All of us were deeply affected by the death of Deputy Steve Cox on December 2, 2006. I want to extend our condolences in a public way to his widow, Maria, together with their son, Bronson, and all the family members. Our hearts are with you as you observe this difficult anniversary.
At the end Mass we will have a testimony from Steve’s close friend, Eric Walker. At this time I would like to say a few words about Steve based on conversations with his family members. Steve was born and raised here in White Center/Shorewood. As a young boy he had a lot of drive and was known as natural leader, organizing sports teams and other activities. In many ways he was self-educated, but he did do formal studies to become a lawyer. He served as Prosecutor in Pasco, but then did something extraordinary. He gave up his career to become a policeman and serve back in this community. He was known for being fair and honest. His integrity inspired others to change. Sometimes Maria and Steve would be having a meal in a restaurant in White Center and someone would come up to him to say how Deputy Cox had inspired him to change his life – for example, to get off drugs.
Steve’s greatest dream was to become a father. He fulfilled that dream a couple years ago when he and Maria adopted Bronson. Those were the happiest days of his life. But last year, on this date, Steve was taken from his wife and son, from all of his family – and from this community.
We are left with the question that Martha asked in the Gospel we just read. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” It is natural to feel that way. It does not mean a lack of faith. Pope Benedict, in fact, spoke about this question in his recent encyclical:
"A world marked by so much injustice, innocent suffering, and cynicism of power cannot be the work of a good God. A God with responsibility for such a world would not be a just God, much less a good God."
God has not given us any easy answer to the injustices of this life. What he has given us is his Son. In Jesus God is at work in our world. Jesus said to Martha, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Martha responded with a tremendous faith, a tremendous hope. Even though she was sad and confused by the untimely death of her brother, she said, “Yes, Lord, I believe you are the Messia, the Son of God.
The answer to the injustices of this life ultimately can only be found in Jesus. He was completely innocent, but he took our injustices on himself. In our reading from the Book of Revelation, we heard that God “wipe the tears from every eye.” He does this in Jesus.
Now, this does not mean we stop working for justice in this world. We need men like Steve Cox, men who are strong, but who use their strength to defend those who are weak. We need men like Steve Cox – men and women who are prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice.
In our first reading we heard that “the souls of the just are in the hand of God and no torment shall touch them. They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead and their passing away was thought an affliction. But they are in peace…” Those who are visiting Holy Family Church for the first time are impressed by our stained glass windows that depict various saints. We believe in the Communion of Saints. In God we have communion with those hear on earth, but also beyond. We can pray for our loved ones as we do at this Mass. And we can also feel their prayers and care. I would like to think that Steve is still caring for his family, his wife and son – and for this community he loved so much.
It is a nice coincidence that today we lit the first candle of our Advent Wreath. This light will grow until we arrive at Christmas. May the light Steve showed also grow. May his example inspire others to care for this community, especially its weakest members.
I would like to conclude with the beautiful words from the Book of Wisdom:
The souls of the just are in the hand of God
And no torment shall touch them.
They seemed in the view of the foolish to be dead
And their passing away was thought an affliction
And their going forth from us utter destruction
But they are in peace…
Those who trust in God shall understand truth
And the faithful shall abide with him in love
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones
And his care is with his elect.
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
P-I article on Anniversary Mass