Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Is God unconventional sometimes?


I attended the funeral of a cousin that I have not seen in probably over 20 years. It's been so long, in fact, that until her children mentioned it, I didn't know she prayed daily and was committed to the Ten Commandments.

I have no idea if, or where, she went to church, but the female pastor offered a nice service at the funeral home.

I mention all of this because my cousin was, by all accounts, one of those gifted, "crazy," unconventional women, who did things a little outside the box. 

What was remarkable to me, was seeing all of the young people at her funeral--her grandkids, naturally, but also their friends and no doubt some "strays" that she took in, counseled, fed, clothed, and brought to baptism.  Young people who needed a place to go at one time or another were always welcome at her house.

In fact, the entire row in front of me was filled with teenagers.

She really made a difference in their young lives, you could just tell. It seemed she didn't care what their circumstances were, if they needed someone, she was there, even if it took all night. Whenever you hear young people give witness to someone, it is a beautiful thing.

Now, I could pick apart which rules she may have followed, and which she most likely didn't when it comes to church and so forth, but I won't, because the impact her funeral left on me is noteworthy.

While I'm not ready to throw away all that I know and believe when it comes to the Catholic Church, the Eucharist, doctrine and so forth, I am happy to acknowledge that God works in and through people in ways far beyond what most of us have been officially taught, or even understand.

And those of us who live by, perhaps, a set of rules others do not, we need to be very careful in thinking we have all the answers, because we have all the doctrine.

There are some people who are upset with Pope Francis because of how far open he has thrown the doors of the Church, but he seems to intuitively recognize the difference between only following rules and, as Bonhoeffer would say, following Jesus. Not that rules are bad, of course.

If you can manage to do both well, that is great, but if your rule-following leads you to deny the work of Jesus in others who live outside your practices, be very careful, for you may find you are not as much of a disciple as you think.

Did I mention that my cousin never wanted a funeral, but her children insisted? They created a funeral that definitely reflected her spirit. She didn't want pictures of herself, but apparently she loved Marilyn Monroe, so their were pictures of Marilyn set up around the casket.

And because my cousin loved to dance, they invited everyone to come up and dance to one of her favorite songs at the end of the service.  I've never seen anything like it.

There were typical prayers, remembrances and so forth, and her funeral is not something I would ever have, and, in fact, find theologically lacking, but honestly, I think God works in unconventional ways sometimes, and who am I to say anything about it?

Janet Cassidy
Email me at:  jmctm2@gmail.com




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