Q: I am sorry to bother you. We are working on a funeral for a founding member of our parish. The decedent had some specific readings in mind. There are a couple of problems with the selections:
The first reading seems to be for “Paul 12:4-5, 9-13.” I explained to the family, much to their surprise, that there is no book called “Paul” in the Bible. I cannot find a non-Gospel New Testament reading that makes sense with those verse references. I also checked Proverbs, but that also didn’t make sense. I also pointed out to the family that typically the first reading outside of Easter season would generally be from the Old Testament.
Question 1: Do these verse readings sound familiar in terms of funeral readings?
Question 2: May the first reading be drawn from the New Testament outside of Easter Season? The other readings the decedent selected are not found in theRite of Christian Funerals: Colossians 3: 14-15, 17, 23-24 and John 15:9-17.
Question 3: Are we at liberty to choose readings not found in the Rite of Christian Funerals?
A: This is a great puzzle. I have been compiling a master list of all the biblical passages used and referenced in all the liturgical books. It will be available with Liturgical Press in a forthcoming study bible sometime in the future. I have 21,247 cross-references to date.
Not a single one of them offers verses 4-5, 9-13 in any biblical book in any liturgical book.
But my hunch is that he meant 1 Corinthians 13. The chapter is so familiar that it wouldn’t surprise me if people thought “Paul” would correctly communicate its meaning. So:
Question 1: No.
Question 2: I vote yes because of how I answer Question 3.
Question 3: Here’s an earlier blog post, citing my book Light in the Darkness: https://paulturner.org/funeral-readings-2/.