The Rev. Carlos Flor looked directly at the mother weeping in the front pew.
The body of her 9-year-old son, Janmarcos Pena, lay in a small white casket next to her. Her other son, 14, was in a juvenile detention center, accused of fatally shooting his little brother.
“A mother is always the one who loves us the most. She is the person who always forgives us,” Flor exhorted in Spanish. “May God touch your heart so you can love, so you can forgive and find peace in the next days.”
Dozens of mourners sat quietly Thursday during the funeral Mass for Janmarcos, a fourth-grader whose death last week shattered his large family and stunned city leaders and police officials already grappling with a surge in gun violence.
At least 100 people attended a wake the night before, many of them fellow students at the James W. Hennigan Elementary School in Jamaica Plain, where Janmarcos was known as an affectionate, friendly child with a goofy sense of humor.
The boy’s funeral at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Jamaica Plain, was subdued, the calm punctured occasionally by the cries of his mother and grandmother.
“Porque, Dios?” one woman said softly, as she stood near the casket. “Why, God?”
Flor told the congregation that he understood why they might want to blame someone for Janmarcos’s death, even God.
“Couldn’t God have done something?” he asked. “How could God allow such horrible pain?”
During the Mass, Flor also frequently mentioned Janmarcos’s older brother — accused of fatally shooting the boy — and called on the congregation to pray for him.
“Remember the 14-year-old. . . . He’s a child, too,” he implored relatives and friends, many of whom wore pins with a picture of Janmarcos, curly-haired and smiling.
Janmarcos was shot in the chest just after 11:30 a.m. Feb. 7, allegedly by his brother, who has not been identified because of his age. Police have said they believe the shooting was accidental.
When the shooting occurred, the boys’ mother was outside their Morton Street apartment in Mattapan, warming up her van so she could take the 14-year-old to an appointment at a school she was hoping to enroll him in, according to relatives.
The teenager now faces charges of involuntary manslaughter and unlawful possession of a firearm and is in the custody of the state Department of Youth Services, held on $50,000 cash bail. He has denied the charges.
The Rev. Jack Ahern, a Dorchester priest who has presided over many funerals of young men felled by violence, assisted Flor in the Roman Catholic Mass.
“Our hearts are breaking,” Ahern told mourners as Flor translated. “The pain is intense. We hope that the same God who will give this beautiful boy peace will also heal our hearts.”
At the end of the Mass, Janmarcos’s relatives gathered around the casket to wheel it out of the church. But the boy’s mother was not ready to say goodbye. She threw herself on top of the small casket and cried, refusing to let go.
Her relatives stood around her for several minutes and tried to comfort her.
Finally, Flor went to her and gently coaxed her up.
The family walked outside, their hands still on the casket as they braced themselves against the cold and clutched five white balloons. As the casket was placed in a black hearse, they released the white balloons and watched them float away.