The tragedy of a Roman Catholic funeral

I went to a Roman Catholic funeral today. And I cried like a baby.

Yes, I was sad to see my friends cry over the loss of their loved one.

But what really got me chocking up good was something the priest said.

At one point of the service he declared that it was time now to ask the Lord as a group to allow the one who passed away to be allowed entry into Heaven.

He declared that,

“Where two or three are gathered we know that Jesus is there. And since we are more than two or three we know that he must be really here”

“Therefore Lord we pray that you let her into heaven. That she would be able to take some of the good things she did on earth with her and that maybe you would cancel some of the really bad things so that she can merit for herself entry into Heaven.”

I immediately started crying. Because of course I know theologically that people believe in false religions, that priests twist scripture and lead their listeners to hell, and I’ve heard them say it hundreds of times. I mean I moved my family to Italy because of this reality. But it is a whole other thing to hear them say it to a room full of hell-bound souls needing desperately to hear the Gospel. Each time you hear it in a context like this I can’t help but be saddened.

What makes it more tragic is the fact that the priest quoted some fascinating scriptures. He quoted John the Baptist when he called Jesus “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. He quoted Jesus in John 10:28 where he says,

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish”

This is what Tyndale meant when he said that a plow boy with a Bible knows the scripture better than the pope himself.

And sadly the priest said more than once that God is holy and deserving of all glory.

And this is the line that perhaps is most tragic. Because the reality is that those who are lost in a false religion don’t realize that it is exactly God’s glory that is being stolen away in their system.

Go back to the prayer offered by the priest.

If the Lord were to allow people into Heaven because of their “Good deeds” then he would be losing the glory. 

People in Heaven would be a walking glory-thief for eternity.

If God were to grant that prayer he would be telling all the angels in Heaven and all the believers already in Heaven that “here walks a person whose deeds contributed to help them gain entry into my kingdom”. Those watching that glory-thief would have to give that person their admiration, respect and perhaps even some adoration thereby stealing glory that only God deserves in the process.

I guess we shouldn’t be shocked. The devil loves to steal glory from God and has set up false religions to do so, but it still hurts our hearts when we see God’s glory blasphemed before our very eyes.

It was clear that the priest offered no hope. The very best he could offer was a prayer, hoping that there were enough people gathered to get God’s attention and hope that he might see the good deeds done and overlook the bad ones. 

And the over one-hundred people gathered left without any hope and without hearing the Gospel.

Going to this funeral was good for me. It reminded me about why I moved my family to be missionaries to this country. And I pray that you, wherever you are, would see the hopeless gospel that the Roman Catholic Church offers and be willing to do the uncomfortable and warn the Roman Catholic people God has placed in your life about their glory-stealing ways and their need to repent and place their faith and trust entirely and only on Christ.

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