Corresponding with my friend John Donaghy, deacon and missionary, he shared the readings he selected for his funeral. The passage from the second Corinthian letter isn’t in the funeral lectionary, but I think it’s a good inclusion. I asked John to offer a brief reflection on it.
The reading from 2 Corinthians has been a favorite for some time, but it makes sense when you look at it in Greek or have a translation that reflects well the Greek. Here is my adaptation of the Jerusalem Bible translation. I have emphasized the parallelisms that get missed in some translations:
Blessed be the God and Father of our lord Jesus Christ,
a gentle Father and the God of all consolation,
who consoles us in all our sorrows,
so that we offer others, in their sorrows,
the consolation that we have received from God
Indeed, as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us,
so, through Christ, does our consolation overflow.
When we are made to suffer,
it is for your consolation and salvation.
When, instead, we are consoled,
this should be a consolation for you,
supporting you in patiently bearing the same
sufferings as we bear.
And our hope for you is confident,
since we know that, sharing our sufferings,
you will also share our consolations.
It is, in one way, a hymn to God’s solidarity with us – sharing our sufferings and our consolations, as well as a call to share others’ sufferings and consolations. In some ways, the first paragraph of Gaudium et Spes might be seen as a contemporary reflection on this.
The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the [people] of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community composed of [humans]. United in Christ, they are led by the Holy Spirit in their journey to the Kingdom of their Father and they have welcomed the news of salvation which is meant for every [human]. That is why this community realizes that it is truly linked with [humanity] and its history by the deepest of bonds. (Gaudium et Spes 1)