See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God’s children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know
that when it is revealed
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
This is also the New Testament Scripture for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, cycle B. Short passage, but rich. Fairly popular as a funeral choice, I would say.
In the Sacra Pagina series from Liturgical Press, John Painter offers an interpretation on verse one that, of course, brings a smile to me. He points out that the metaphors “being begotten of God” and “called children of God” are distinct. The latter, the one used by the author in the passage above, is more suggestive of adoption than begetting. Though the practice of adoption in apostolic times in both Israel and the Roman culture was far different than we understand it today, the notion of being adopted indeed made a person an heir of the Father. That is the essence of what John is communicating. And if our practice of adoption is more widespread and generous, we should realize in no less a way that what the writer is suggesting is that the believer is, like Jesus, a full heir to everything the Father has to offer. The trials and suffering of Christ of the Passion, certainly. And death remains part of the human experience, to be sure.
But after death, we have a heritage. We may not see it clearly. Sometimes we may indeed hang on with only a glimmer of hope. But we are children of the Father. This “legality” in undeniable.
No wonder this is an excellent Scripture for the Easter Lectionary. No wonder it appears in the funeral Lectionary, too. Proclaim with confidence. Listen with hope.