Courage in the face of the uncertainties associated
with funerals, suits these readings. Isaiah
is uncertain about how to react to the loss of two geographic places, Zebulun
Psalm 27 would look for light and salvation only in the LORD, thereby illustrating courage in the face of uncertainties. As Psalm 27:14 puts it, stouthearted waiting for the LORD, waiting for whatever else may, for example, follow a funeral. Widows, of whom there are demographically more than widowers, particularly, are in such disruptive situations.
1 Corinthians would have the Faithful remaining united
in the face of disruptions caused by death, for example. While, admittedly,
The reading from
As will be seen, the reading references are tortuous,
calling for courage in the face of uncertainty before the authority of the
Magisterium as expressed in the Lectionary. The places mentioned at the beginning
probably refer to the western border, along
Verse 23: seaward road
Lectionary (1998): seaward road
The Vulgate (circa 410): omitted
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): omitted
New American (1970): seaward road
New Jerusalem (1985): omitted
Verse 23: District of the Gentiles
Lectionary (1998): the District of the Gentiles.
The Vulgate (circa 410): Galilaeam Gentium.
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): has
has province of the nations in 9:1
New American (1970): the District of the Gentiles
New Jerusalem (1985): the territory of the nations in 9:1
Verse 23, below, is confusing. The word anguish illustrates the confusion.
Lectionary (1998): Anguish has taken wing …
The Vulgate (circa 410): Non erit enim amplius caligo,
ubi erat oppressio.
Douay-Rheims (1582-1610): … weakness and distress … distress
New American (1970): Anguish has taken wing…
New Jerusalem (1985): For is not everything dark as night for a country in distress?
The Lectionary includes the following between verse 23b and 9:1, which I do not find in the Vulgate, but which is described above.
Anguish has taken wing, dispelled is darkness:
For there is no gloom where but now there was distress.
Verse 9:1 is easier. Verse 9:1, have seen a great light, is the light of the Poor Clares and others. Light means knowledge and knowledge is something that should not be assumed, because light plays tricks, tricks evident in the very translations of Isaiah 8:23—9:1. Facing the differences between what the Lectionary offers and the various sources, requires the courage of Faith in uncertainty. Turning to funerals, sometimes only in death does a difference of perception appear for the recently deceased. The uncertainty associated with the difference requires courage and faith that the Almighty, at least, understands.
Psalm 27:1, 4, 13-14
Psalm 27 is one of the readings Funerals uses at a Vigil for the Deceased and in Funerals for Adults. Isaiah, above, in focusing on the light, brings the Beatific Vision of God in the afterlife into focus. The Responsorial antiphon for Psalm 27, The Lord is my light and my salvation focuses in the same direction. In verse 4, dwelling in the house of the LORD, can be taken as a reference to heaven. Those in monastic life, such as the Poor Clare nuns, might take the house of the LORD as their monasteries. Contemplating his temple can refer to the temple that the Faithful are, Temples of the Holy Ghost, to use pre-Vatican II language.
Verse 13 brings the situation back to earth, in the land of the living. Verse 14 refers to the courage before uncertainty required by the Faithful at funerals. Be stouthearted and wait for the LORD.
The Lectionary uses Psalm 27 as follows:
Reading Page verses Antiphon Sunday
27C 167 1, 7-8, 8-9, 13-14 (1a ) Lent 2
59A 465 1, 4, 7-8 (13) Easter 7
67A 517 1, 4 13-14 (1a) Ordinary 3
668# 1190 1, 4, 7, 8b, 9a, 13-14 (1a) All Souls, November 2
1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17
Interestingly, the Gospel of the kingdom in this Alleluia
verse is capitalized, whereas in the later reading,
In verse 13,
The Greek for what had been said carries the sense of as Isaiah used to say, meaning that an exact quotation was not intended. The Greek for said is a participle, indicating something said repeatedly rather than something said once and recorded. Resources for the Greek are newly added in the Appendix.
The Vulgate (circa 410): Galilaea gentium verses
New American (1970):
New Jerusalem (1985):
Gentiles is different from nations. The Greek uses the word for ethnic groups. The sense seems to be outsiders, such as most Faithful Christians today.
At verse 17, these readings cross a transition from establishing that Jesus is the Son of God, Israel’s Savior and Messiah, to his public ministry. Verse 17, repent, is the first word Matthew has Jesus say, as Jesus begins his public ministry. This gives the Faithful something to do; repentance is able to take on many forms. Matthew is keeping in place thy will be done of the Our Father.
Doing God’s will can be disruptive, rather than peaceful. Peace in the First Testament does not refer to order and tranquility, but rather commitment to justice, something precious to Black Catholics in the United States. That the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, brings immediacy, easily missed in Western Civilization. The Greek has Kingdom of the heavens, plural.
Courage in the face of uncertainty holds the following four
paragraphs, uncertainty illustrated with the following questions. Was not
The West is oriented towards the future in a manner rare among the peoples of the world. This orientation makes it easy for Westerners to slip by the immediacy with which Jesus preaches. Jesus is not preaching about some time in the distant future for the Kingdom of the Heavens. He is preaching about the here and now.
In verse 21, when
Verse 23, teaching, proclaiming, and curing summarizes the ministry of Jesus to the Faithful. Verse 23 particularizes what the Messiah, the one who is to come, as shepherd (Matt 2:6) will do. Jesus will save the Faithful by saving them from their sins, as his healing miracles attest (Matt and 9:1-13). The phrase, he went around … among the people, places the Kingdom of the Heavens in the present, even while the Faithful pray for the completion of that arrival.
These readings invite the Faithful to consider their last
ends. Funerals are dress rehearsals for
later funerals of the mourners. Isaiah
registers hope in the face of uncertainty requiring courage. Psalm 27 is used at funerals, thereby calling
to mind the need for the LORD to be my
light and my salvation. 1
Corinthians is about the messiness of the Christian life, as the Faithful stick
to the courage of their convictions in the face of uncertainty. Finally, the Gospel moves
For more on sources see the Appendix file.
 International Commission on English in the Liturgy: A Joint Commission of Catholic Bishops’ Conferences, The Roman Ritual: Revised by Decree of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and published by Authority of Pope Paul IV: Order of Christian Funerals: Including Appendix 2: Cremation: Approved for use in the Dioceses of the United States of America by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and Confirmed by the Apostolic See (New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Co., 1998) 29-30, 224.
 Richard A. Horsley, “Wisdom of Word and Words of Wisdom in Corinth,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 2 (April 1977) 224.
 Joseph A. Comber, C.F.X., “The Composition and Literary Characteristics of Matt 11:20-24," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 39, No. 4 (October 1977) 499.
 Jack Dean Kingsbury, “Observations on the `Miracle Chapters’ of Mathew 8-9," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 40, No. 4 (October 1978) 560-566.
 W. R. G. Loader, “Son of David, Blindness, Possession, and Duality in Matthew,” the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 44, No. 4 (October 1982) 583.
 John Paul Heil, Ezekiel 34 and the Narrative Strategy of the Shepherd and Sheep Metaphor in Matthew," the Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 4 (October 1993) 701.