MONDAY: Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time
Death, a Gateway to Eternal Life
The breath of God is indispensable to human life and existence (Ps.104:29-30). It is all a mystery. In the face of it all, death remains a frightening paradox – not even faith enables humankind to endure life and death without a struggle. The idea of the other-worldliness still evades us. Despite the talk of going to heaven – no one wants to die. Cognizant of this duality in humankind God has not left us without examples to enrich our faith and to consolidate our trust in him.
Throughout the course salvation history, God provided many examples that there is life after death and there is a place reserved for the souls of the just. The apparition of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, the assumption of Enoch, Elijah, the resurrection of Christ and ascension in o heaven and the assumption of Mary – all are convincing arguments that death is not our finality and that the Lord will transform our mortal bodies into copies of his own glorified body (Phil.3:21).
Eucharistic discourse further endorses this notion of a life after death. In the Eucharist gave us a divine pledge that those who authentically partake of this covenant when they die; he will raise them up in glory. Also, Paul in his discourse on Baptism reiterates, the Holy Spirit, which Christians received at Baptism, is the pledge for full participation in the resurrection of the dead in Christ and eternal life in the world to come (Rom.8:11). Christ himself assured his listeners: anyone who believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life (Jn.3:16). In other words, there is always the hope of an eternity with God and Christ in heaven for those who do the will of the Father.
Christ shed tears at the death of Lazarus not because he did not believe in the life of the just after death – he did so only because he loved and missed Lazarus. Human emotions will move us to do the same at the passing of our loved ones. Love will make us grieve. However, the lack of faith makes us despondent and bitter against God–especially in circumstance we term as the premature death of a good person. The author of Wisdom 4:11 says death is never a punishment from God. It is a rich reward to prevent the soul from being corrupt by seduction and evil. In other words, death is the gateway to eternal life and the fullness of transcendence in Christ.
Paul in the first reading of today from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 takes cognizance of our grief and sorrow at the death of our loved ones. Paul reminds us: for those who are in Christ, at death, life does not end; it changes. We put on the immortality of Christ. The Litany of the Saints is a vivid reminder of the Church glorified in the saints in heaven (Rev.7:4; 14:1) Thus, the Gospel is a beautiful summary of this beautiful mystery of life and death. The whole mission of Christ on earth and mission of the Church as well are the transformation of humankind in anticipation of their eternal glory with God. Thus, death is not a finale but a gateway to eternal life.
Lord, life is your gift and death is your gateway into your kingdom. I believe.