Funeral Lectionary: Romans 5:17-21

Continuing with Saint Paul’s Gospel of Hope (Romans 5-8), the Church gives us the second half of a comparison of two traditions. It’s not explicit in just this pericope, but the “one person” is Adam (See Romans 5:12-16). Or the joint transgression of Adam and Eve, if you prefer. Or humanity’s universal captivity to sin and death, if you demur on the mythology.

If, by the transgression of one person,
  death came to reign through that one,
  how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace
  and of the gift of justification come to reign in life
  through the one person Jesus Christ.
 
In conclusion, just as through one transgression
    condemnation came upon all,
  so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all.
For just as through the disobedience of one person
  the many were made sinners,
  so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.
 
The law entered in so that transgression might increase but,
  where sin increased,
  grace overflowed all the more,
  so that, as sin reigned in death,
  grace also might reign through justification for eternal life
  through Jesus Christ our Lord.

I’ve always found the connection of sin and death to be not quite a perfect one. Death is part of the existence of nearly all individual life on Earth. Cosmologically, things in the material world are born, live, and die. And not just life. Stars. Galaxies.  The very nature of energy in the universe we know. All will run down. Is the death of a star due to human sin and transgression?

At any rate, while I might pick nits on the details on the sin-death connection, I’m far from dismissing the notion of the supremacy of Christ’s eternal legacy here. The point is that the Lord will raise up his brothers and sisters. We need not worry about the lasting effects of sin in ther world. Christ is in control. And the hopeful message for mourners is that their loved one will be caught up in the grace of Christ. It’s far bigger than just one person, righteous, troubled, or outright sinful. It’s a universal covenant between all believers, all God’s people, and the Savior. And God’s reaction to the increase of sin? Not more punishment. More grace. There’s a great dollop of hope for those in doubt or in mourning.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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