On The Reality of Death
November has always been the month we pay special attention to the end times. The celebration of Halloween, All Saints and All Souls further reminds us of the realities of mortal existence and our eternal aspirations.
As we watch leaves change color and gently fall off tree branches, the tree is ever- hopeful that spring will come, and new leaves be regenerated again. Likewise, our faith in Jesus Christ and his gift of resurrection fills us with hope and assurance that our life on earth has a meaning and will end in gaining a life that is everlasting.
People have varied approaches to the awesome reality of death. Some see it as a step into oblivion; others are completely uncertain about what follows the moment of death. As people of faith, we should accept death with great hope. However, we must acknowledge that nearly everyone has a certain amount of fear. More often than not, even the sickest of people cling to life and refuse to give themselves up to death.
For Saint Paul death was a confident leap into the waiting arms of his Savior. He said, “I long to be freed from this life and to be with Christ.” He saw death as the greatest gain possible. And yet he knew there was still work to be done for his people. He was willing to postpone his ultimate union with Christ to continue serving Christ’s people.
It is difficult for us to get a balanced view of life and death. As Christians we should not fear death. We should look forward to it as the fulfillment of life. This is not an easy attitude to have, especially in the face of imminent death.
On the other hand, we ought to accept God’s will for whatever our allotted span on this earth may be. We may not be as certain of our mission or purpose in life as was St. Paul, and yet we know that we are part of God’s plan. He has a purpose for each one of us (Fr. Charles Miller, C.M.) “There are moments when many of us have doubts. And there is nothing unusual about that. With Saint Paul we simply pray to be strengthened, with the firm conviction that the God who is faithful will bring us home.” He reminds us that “eyes have not seen, and ears have not heard, nor has entered man what God has prepared for those who love Him.
“In him (Jesus) the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned,
that those saddened by the
certainty of dying might be consoled
by the promised of immortality to come.
Indeed, for your faithful, Lord
life is changed not ended,
when this earthly dwelling turns to dust,
an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven.”
cf. (Preface I from the Mass of the Dead)
Grace and Mercy to You,
Fr. Vitalis Anyanike