If I wrote a letter to those who were grieving my death, what would I write? This is one of the questions that I asked myself last year in my post, Preparing to Die in 5 Easy Steps. I also made a commitment to choose the Bible readings that I would like read at my Funeral Mass. These two efforts find communion in the words of St. Paul – one of the Scripture passages that I choose for when my loved ones say goodbye to me, whenever that may be.
As I am busy writing my book, God willing, I share this reading with you, dear reader. (I will be checking the comments, so please keep up the bothering and encouraging so that I can stay on track!)
The words that follow are definitely those of St. Paul. My letter to my loved ones will be different. But, there is a tenderness in what St. Paul has to say to the Philippians that touches my heart and, I hope, will touch the heart of those who will hear it at my funeral, whenever that may be. The way that he combines his expressions of affection and his joyful encouragement toward unity and kindness with the jaw-dropping reality of the Mystery of the Incarnation fills me with delight – this is Christianity. A call to love, humility, compassion, and generosity, to union with divinity – through Christ, who is God… humble, compassionate, generous… love itself.
Wonder of wonders…
“If there is any encouragement in Christ, any solace in love, any participation in the Spirit, any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love, united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others.
Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, Who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
So then, my beloved, obedient as you have always been, not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent, work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine like lights in the world…”
© 2018 Christina Chase
Bible passage taken from the NAB
Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash