TO RECEIVE FORMATION UNITS
content from Creighton University's Daily Reflections
by Molly Mattingly, Creighton University's Campus Ministry Department
When I first looked at today’s readings, I thought, “How will I manage to reflect well on anything but the line, ‘I myself will give you wisdom in speaking?’” The first reading seemed harsh on the party-goers terrified by the disembodied hand. (Wouldn’t you be more than a little freaked out?) I felt out of my depth with the rest of the Gospel passage on suffering, never having experienced such persecution myself. But, that one line struck me.
I imagine it stuck out for me because I had been asking for “wisdom in speaking” during the week when the Creighton community lost four students in a tragic car accident, now a month ago. Planning a funeral liturgy with a bereaved family is never easy. There is never a “right thing to say” entering into a friend’s grief, much less a stranger’s. There are even fewer things to say when the family has lost someone unexpectedly, especially someone young. There is just being present.
As a funeral planner and music minister in a Catholic parish, my ministry is to bring the family into the beauty of the Catholic funeral rites. The rites use sacred text, music, ritual, and Sacrament to help them say goodbye, pray together, and find hope in Christ’s Resurrection. Part of my role is to let them know that, in the midst of their grief, at least someone knows what to do. I’m sure I can come off as business-like rather than empathetic. “Who will do the second reading? We still need gift bearers, too.” I frequently come off as the bad guy, especially to those who don’t regularly practice their faith with a worshipping community. “I’m sorry, we can’t use your loved one’s favorite broadway / pop / country / jazz standard etc. during the Mass.” The other part of my role is bringing people into liturgical prayer through song. Quite frankly, I can’t sing if I’m crying with everyone.
Still, I wanted to say the right things, or at least not say the wrong things. I was nervous about entering into such a painful time for the family whose daughter’s funeral was at St. John’s, our parish church.
When I looked back at these readings, I saw a little bit of a connection. The first reading tells us to remember the sacred. The king and his companions had forgotten – they used the temple vessels for a party. “What’s the difference?” you might ask. “A cup is a cup.” Yes. But these cups were sacred. They had been specially set aside for God. Their purpose was to be more than just a cup. Their purpose was to remind the people to look towards God, to sacrifice for God. The cups themselves had been given to God.