Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe: John 18:33b-37.
From all that parishes have as part of their regular duties, ministry surrounding funerals has emerged as a big part of what we do here now. We had 40 funerals over the past year, and in the last few months we’re up to about two funerals a week, and that’s a lot for a tiny parish.
But it’s a good challenge. As a deacon at one of my previous parishes liked to say, “Funerals are the only time you can be sure people are actually listening to what you’re preaching.”
Very often we have only 48 to 72 hours to bury someone we don’t know. And while it’s great to know we have so many people who loved the Yankees or Atlantic City or their dogs or their families, that doesn’t really help us in the funeral Mass, unless we can tie parts of a person’s life to their faith in the living God, their relationship with Christ, their life in the Spirit.
So…how would you want to be remembered in regard to your relationship to God? Christ? Church? And really, this is not a question for your obituary or your funeral homily, but for how you’re conducting your Christian life right now.
The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr once wrote: “A person who has found his or her true self has learned how to live in the big picture, as part of deep time and all history. This change of frame and venue is called living in the kingdom of God by Jesus. This necessitates that we let go of our smaller kingdoms. Life is all about practicing for heaven by choosing Union both now and later.”
Powerful and wise words. So, in a church community, we don’t care how you’ve walled yourself up in your achievements, your possessions, your portfolio, circle of family and friends. That’s your kingdom, and so that’s your Christian problem. We care about the great collective, the big picture, deep time, your practice for heaven, how you’ve immersed in something and Someone bigger and better than you.
Can we say with Jesus, “My kingdom does not belong to this world”? Can we relate to him when he says, “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”?