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?


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in Order of Christian Funerals, Scripture. Bookmark the permalink.

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

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

  2. Todd says:

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

    • 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. 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. Liam says:


    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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. Todd says:

    Prayers and condolences on your loss.

  10. Lily says:

    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

  11. Pingback: Diocese of Rome Synod Address, Part 16, One Great People | Catholic Sensibility

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s