I’m not sure which priest I worked for suggested this brief reading to his parishioners, but I thought it a succinct and appropriate selection for the occasion of a funeral. It seems to touch on three important points. But before we get to those, let’s ponder the text:
We do speak a wisdom
to those who are mature,
but not a wisdom of this age,
nor of the rulers of this age
who are passing away.
Rather, we speak God’s wisdom,
which God predetermined before the ages for our glory,
and which none of the rulers of this age knew;
for if they had known it,
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
But as it is written:
“What eye has not seen,
and ear has not heard,
and what has not entered the human heart,
what God has prepared for those who love him.”
- Christians reject the so-called wisdom of this age, it’s fear and avoidance of death and aging, and its worship of indulgence. Dying and death put modern people in their place. We have yet to conquer it. We don’t understand or comprehend it. We like to have warm-ish thoughts about it: heaven with harp music and angels or reincarnation to a better do-over. But ultimately it’s a very scary mystery. Why not just admit the unknown frightens us? Then we can put ourselves into the hands of God.
- This passage invites the mourners into a Christ-centered experience. If we were wise in the ways of the Father, we would not crucify Christ. We would not impose suffering on others.
- The citation from Isaiah, after the Babylonian Exile, suggests that God will amaze us if we let him. God will give us grace beyond our dreams, beyond our imagination. If there were ever a time for believers to put their trust in God, it would surely be at the time of death. A message for the one near death as well as those alive who remain behind.