Funeral Lectionary: Isaiah 25:6a, 7-9

Many passages in Isaiah hint, suggest, or proclaim a universal salvation. This isn’t confined to the later “incarnations” of the Isaiah tradition post-Exile (chapter 40ff.). One of the most popular Old Testament passages for a funeral lays out a vision in which “all peoples” shall enjoy a banquet of salvation:

On this mountain the Lord of hosts
  will provide for all peoples
[A feast of rich food and choice wines,
  juicy rich food and pure choice wines.]
On this mountain he will destroy
  the veil that veils all peoples,
The web that is woven over all nations;
  he will destroy death forever.
The Lord God will wipe away
  the tears from all faces;
The reproach of his people he will remove
  from the whole earth; for the Lord has spoken.
On that day it will be said:
  “Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us!
This is the Lord for whom we looked;
  let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!”

I don’t know why the Lectionary editors omitted the portion in brackets above, 25:6b. Maybe the juicy rich food and pure choice wines won’t be served in the parish hall after the cemetery; only casseroles and lemonade.

Seriously, this passage gives a classic Christian picture of heaven. So why not proclaim and preach it at a funeral? Only four verses, but packed with solid theology and great imagery. A preacher might have to pick and choose from:

  • The mountain as the traditional place for the Israelite to encounter God.
  • God removes the obstructions of human sin; it is grace that we rely on to remove the tangles of our failures.
  • The end of death as a mortal inevitability.
  • Our tender God wipes away tears: the gesture of a loving parent.
  • Outsiders will have no reason to taunt the redeemed. This, the outgrowth of the ancient competitiveness between Israel (and its God) and the Gentiles (and their pagan gods).
  • The power of God’s Word: he has only to say something, and it will be so.
  • Those last two lines of this passage strike me as an echo of the Easter refrain from Psalm 118:24.

I think this passage is well-paired with Psalm 23, complementing how God actively pursues and provides for the psalmist with the Isaian expectation of God’s salvific grace for the entire believing and faithful community. That’s a lot of ground to cover. What do you think about Isaiah 25 as a passage for a funeral?

 

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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.
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25 Responses to Funeral Lectionary: Isaiah 25:6a, 7-9

  1. Pingback: Advent Lectionary: Isaiah 2:1-5 « Catholic Sensibility

  2. Dick Martin says:

    John 3: 16; “For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son that if you believe in Him you shall have everlasting life”. Jesus died for the sins of the Whole World. You are dead spiritually and you need to be made alive. Those who are not will be erased for the book of life. Old Testament is called ” Old” because there is a New Testament. The New makes the Old obsolete. Hebrews 8:13. check it out. Love Dick

    • Todd says:

      Obsolete? It’s all the inspired Word of God.

      • Dick Martin says:

        Blow the dust off your bible. Obsolete God said it I gave you the reference. another is Romans 3:20 No one was EVER justified by keeping the Law. We who have been made alive IN CHRIST are not under the Law but under GRACE. Those who are not in Christ are condemned alreardy. 1st. John 5:11-13. love in Jesus- Dick

      • Todd says:

        Dick, it might help to realize that the Old TEstament is far more than the Law. We also have the prophets, poets, stories, psalms and canticles, not to mention the history of salvation. You are correct about grace, but not about the Bible.

  3. Dick Martin says:

    Todd, You must not have read my reference ;
    Hebrews 8:6-13
    “But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises.
    For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second.
    Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—
    not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.
    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
    None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.
    For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.”
    In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” All thru the old testament there was no means of salvation except believing in the coming of Jesus by Faith. Job the oldest book in the Bible says that Job was a Righteous Man, Abraham was a Righteous Man, Noah was also, Moses was Righteous. They all were believing in the coming of Jesus. Paul’s Revelation Spelled it all out. Old testament was to show us that we cannot save ourselves. Only thru Jesus can Salvation come. If your Spirit and His Spirit are ONE. Love in Jesus Dick.

    • Todd says:

      Dick, what you seem to be engaging in is proof-texting. In speaking about grace, not only are you way off the topic, but you’re not getting any argument.

      This post is about a particular passage from Isaiah used for the funeral liturgy in many Christian traditions. I really don’t mind when people go off on a tangent in the discussion here, but don’t assume your new argument about the Old Testament is going to net any traction. I don’t find any explicit pelagianism in Isaiah. Quite the contrray.

      I’ve already addressed the issue that Scripture in the Christian tradition is read or utilized for a good bit more than philosophical theology. The funeral reading series here is mainly about liturgy and pastoral ministry. The point here is the message in Isaiah 25. Not Hebrews 8.

  4. Dick Martin says:

    todd; this is about funerals . since everyone has to chose when alive the inheritence Jesus provided for us. The reading of the scriptures does not save anyone. Scripture needs to be understood and believed and applied to recieve salvation. Old Testament for salvation has passed away; the understanting of salvation is hidden there. Gospels is a history of Jesus; Revelation is about future events. Only in the Epistles of Paul is where We see Salvation for today clearly. It is a free gift ; believed and recieved by Faith. Funerals are for the benefit of the living not the dead. Jesus said you must be Born Again to enter Heaven. Seek and you will find; knock and the Door will be open; Ask and you will recieve. Love in Jesus, Dick

    • Todd says:

      Dick, this is about funerals, yes. But salvation is generally not in play at all, except perhaps as a note of confidence and compassion for the mourners.

      I think you’re misfiring in this discussion because as you profess the importance of the grace of Christ, you miss the message for those who indeed are among God’s elect. Repeating the Christian message on grace and salvation is important. But you are missing others. I suspect we’re now just talking past each other: you, in an attempt to hammer your message, and me, suggesting there’s more nuance to salvation: praise of God, conversion, compassion, healing, etc..

      The Gospels, by the way, are a bit more than historical books. They are also the New Law, liturgical books, and wisdom literature. As such they do not exist merely to retell a story. They serve a purpose today beyond the history.

  5. Dick Martin says:

    Todd,You know that the mourners are concerned about where their loved one will spend eternity and it’s a good time to share Jesus with them so they will know also their destiny. Since the Pope was asked; if he would die tonight,would He go to Heaven? He said ” No, No one knows until the Judgement Day”. We should be able to give a correct answer,”yes” . Assurance is spelled out in the Epistles.
    1 John 5:11-13
    And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
    He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
    These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
    Romans 10:9-10
    If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
    For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. This is the message that the mourners need to hear,” Salvation is by Faith And Grace” then you become righteous in God’s sight. This is the Good news that has been preached since Jesus said “It is finished”. This is the message I want at my funeral. Hopefully there won’t be any mourners there. Love of Jesus—–Dick

  6. Dick Martin says:

    Todd, Eternal security is the work of God which guarantees that the gift of salvation, once received, is forever and cannot be lost. The Bible truth of eternal security emphasizes God’s activity in guaranteeing the eternal possession of the gift of eternal life. It relates to those the Holy Spirit regenerates, and its veracity does not rest on feelings , experiences or common sense.
    Scripture Quote: ” In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will,
    that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.
    In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
    who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.
    How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
    Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
    Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
    knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
    For he who has died has been freed from sin.
    Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
    knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
    For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
    Likewise you also, consider yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” You won’t find this so clearly spelled out in the whole bible as it is in Paul’s Epistles. This is the Good News. Have a Holy and Blessed Christmas, Dick

  7. Dick Martin says:

    UNIVERSAL SALVATION Lyda, The most Quoted Scripture in the Bible in the Modern Times is: John 3:16
    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life”.
    You see this at all the sporting events all over the world. God is all Knowing, He see the END before the beginning. He wants everyone to be Saved so he Provided payment for all the sins of the whole World. Jesus said “it is finished” and He sat down. (Meaning He done all that is required on His Part). The Bible say’s that We have all sinned and come short of His requirement. Everyone has a part in receiving Salvation individually. Those who have the Son have life; those who do not have the Son does not have life. In these facts there is no universal Salvation. Those who believe in Buddhist, Moslems, Hindus, Cults, any one believing in another way to Heaven won’t make it.
    Jesus “ I am THE way, the Truth, the Life, no one comes to the Father except thru Me” The Catholic Catechism States (841) That Everyone who Believes in the Creator no matter the Religion will be Saved. This go against everything the Bible teaches. The Catholic Church taught when I went to Catholic School that if you were anything but Catholic you could not make it to Heaven. The Word of God states that if you are born from above ( Your Sinful NATURE has to be Replaced with God the Fathers NATURE”). By Asking God to do this is How you become a Child of the King. The only way Salvation is Universal is if the Holy Spirit lives IN YOU. If your not IN HIM you’re Universally Lost. WOOOO. Not good.
    Romans 10:10
    For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Love in Jesus Dick

  8. Dick Martin says:

    Lyda, What happened to your comment? This is about a message to the World not just Catholics. Unfortunately this must seem like foolishness to some.
    1 Corinthians 1:18
    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
    Romans 1:16-17
    For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
    For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”
    1 Corinthians 1:21
    For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. Love in Jesus Dick

    • Liam says:

      Dick

      Prooftexting doesn’t work for well-versed Catholics. The literalist approach to Scripture proof-texting is a relatively modern development in Christianity, alien to the first centuries of Christianity (indeed, the canon of Scriptures wasn’t settled until the mid-4th century – by the bishops of what are now the Catholic, Orthodox and Oriental Churches I might add…), and so we have a whole method of harmonizing and reconciling the many passages of Scripture that are at first blush in obvious tension with each other, which tensions are typically elided in the proof-texting method because of the laser focus. There are centuries of Patristic and Scholastic meditation and scholarship on these issues that you’d need to engage to understand this (thinking you just need Scripture and the proof-texting approach is an illusion: there is no getting past that Scripture is always interpreted, even by you when you don’t think you are doing so).

      Peace and a blessed New Year to you and yours.

  9. Dick Martin says:

    Liam Who are you? My statement was for Lyda. Since your intellectual response proves my point; Prooftexting the word of God is the more excellent way to say any thing.. To speak any other way is to show your ignorance in thinking the Word of God is an ILLUSION.. The Scriptures speak ;
    2 Timothy 3:14-17
    But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,
    and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
    All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,
    that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. . Scripture makes you Wise Unto Salvation. It’s profitable, for correction, it instructs in Rightousness. The word righteousness is not even in your Catechism. This is what God hinges the whole Gospel of Salvation upon(Righteousness). You can not enter Heaven without it. Scripture was written to be Understood. To have Wisdom and understanding is a free Gift and it’s to be applied to those who don’t KNOW. Stop trying to get approval from itching Ears.
    1 Corinthians 3:18-20
    Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.
    For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”;
    and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”
    Ephesians 1:13-14 Faith comes by Hearing., Hearing by the Word of God.
    In Him you also trusted, after you HEARD the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were SEALED with the Holy Spirit of promise,
    who is the GUARANTEE of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. My Prayer is for you to seek Jesus in this New Year

    • Todd says:

      Dick, you are a public commentator on a public web site. Your comments are for everybody.

      Liam is correct. Your approach to Scripture, while not unknown to Christians, is not an authentic part of serious Christian interpretation. Why? Because it takes a favored point, and searches for words and interpretation that bolster an individual’s assertion, and not necessarily that of the Lord Jesus.

      There are richer, more traditional, and much more edifying approaches to the Word of God.

  10. Carol Lloyd says:

    How sad this commentary chain is.

    • Todd says:

      Hi Carol,

      Perhaps. But I’m inclined to let it stand. There are well-meaning Protestants like Dick who may have enthusiasm in place of a sound approach to Scripture. He’s still my brother.

      And perhaps, when Protestants attend Catholic funerals, we are attuned to differences in theology that will help the preached message bear a little more fruit.

      • Carol Lloyd says:

        I hear you. As it turns out I looked your page up because I am to read Isaiah 25 vs 6-9 at my father’s funeral tomorrow. Within this context it was very sad. We can strive to be right all we want, but I feel it’s better to be kind. Live and let live.

      • Dick Martin says:

        Carol: My Heart go out to you and you Family. May the God of peace be with all of you at this time of grieving. Jesus said that if you have Him living in your Heart you have Life and you will live with Him in Heaven. Those who Do not have Him living in Them do not have Life. To live and let live is Not my goal . My goal it to Change your Destiny From with out Him to with Him . Those who can make that decision are those who are Living. Death has a sting for some. Some don’t have . (O’ Death where is your sting? Bible Quote ). The pope was asked ; If you were to die tonight where would you spend Eternity? His answer was; No one Knows until Judgement.

        1 John 5:11-13
        And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.
        He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
        These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God. Note: God HAS ( past tense) ( Life is in Son) That you may KNOW you have Eternal Life. These are God’s words. Not Man’s words. You have to put you FAITH in someone. Two Choices God or Man? Beyond the Grave you choice is Made. Funerals are for the living not Dead. Invite Jesus into your Heart and your Spirit and His Spirit will become ONE. This is How you get into Heaven. You become a member of the Family. Don’t wait to find out after Death. that is when your Faith becomes SIGHT. Carol; to be right about these things is base on TRUTH , you can’t go by you feelings. Your feelings changes nothing about the Word of God. Love in Jesus, Dick

  11. opreach says:

    I enjoyed your post, Todd. The comments, not so much. I was looking around on the web for some thoughts on this passage – it will be the first reading at the funeral of one of our sisters next week. And we had chosen Psalm 23 as the Responsorial Psalm. Our choice for the Gospel is John 6 30-35 – the Eucharistic discourse. I am glad for our Catholic understanding of salvation and Eucharist! ;-) Blessings on your blog.

  12. Todd says:

    Prayers and condolences on your loss.

  13. Lily says:

    Hi!
    Which version [of the Bible] is this passage taken from?
    I heard this passage in a commemoration event for the Rwandan genocide last year, and would like to find a good English version of the French that was used then. I found this one more in line with it than the wordings in The King James Bible.
    Thank you and have a blessed day

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