Here’s another Bible passage that’s not in the Catholic Lectionary for funerals. This passage was suggested by a priest I once worked with. There’s no obvious mention of death, but God does acknowledge in this covenant with Noah he is dealing with flawed, mortal beings. And yet mercy overrides all:
God said to Noah:
“This is the sign that I am giving for all ages to come,
of the covenant between me and you
and every living creature with you:
I set my bow in the clouds to serve as a sign of the covenant
between me and the earth.
When I bring clouds over the earth,
and the bow appears in the clouds,
I will recall the covenant I have made
between me and you and all living beings,
so that the waters shall never again
become a flood to destroy all mortal beings.
As the bow appears in the clouds,
I will see it and recall the everlasting covenant
that I have established between God and all living beings
–all mortal creatures that are on earth.”
God told Noah:
“This is the sign of the covenant I have established
between me and all mortal creatures that are on earth.”
Upon reflection, this reading seemed very appropriate for a funeral. Even non-believers are aware of the story of Noah. So there’s a hook in the very first reading that mourners hear at Mass.
“Serious” Catholic might be pleased that we’re not candy-coating the reality of sin and disobedience. There’s that undercurrent of why the flood was imposed–the intolerance of human wickedness.
Ultimately, God shows mercy to human beings. In the story, he wipes out the whole human race, save eight people. But he offers a commitment to “mortal” creatures. He doesn’t desire the erasure of a person or people from existence. But he invites us to listen to his Son, and to commit ourselves to our side of a covenant.
At a funeral, a preacher might mention our hope is that the deceased has made this commitment. We can tell people that God desires all to live in a divine communion. And we have God’s promise of love–and more. God makes a commitment to his people. Even those who do not believe or who are yet to become believers.