Death does not have the final word

By | June 29, 2012

In the face of death, Jesus said to Jairus, the synagogue officer whose daughter was extremely ill, “Do not be afraid; just have faith.” From the Book of Wisdom we are given this reflection: “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.” And St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians speaks of how Jesus embraced poverty — the ultimate poverty is that of death — in order that we might one day experience the richness of eternal life. Death and life! Poverty and richness! Fear and faith! God’s word is laden with meaning.

On July 4, we celebrate our declaration of independence. The founders of our nation were willing to face death rather than to submit to oppression. They had a vision and a scale of values that put freedom above safety. Death did not deter them. They risked all.

There are two accounts in the Scriptures of Jesus weeping. One was when he heard the news of the death of his friend Lazarus. The second occurred when he looked over the city of Jerusalem, a city on the verge of “dying.” Loss causes tears, and death is one of those ultimate losses that throws the soul into grief and mourning. Who is unable to sympathize with Jairus as he stands powerless as his daughter is on the brink of death? We need not withhold tears as we bid farewell.

But faith gives us hope. Death does not have the final word. God’s plan is for life and the fullness of being. If death is necessary, then God can turn it to good use and bring about a graced transformation. We pray in the preface for the dead that life is changed, radically changed, not ended. Faith it is that drives out paralyzing fear. Faith it is that helps us to turn to God and be graced with the conviction of resurrection.

So how did (and how does) death enter the world? Death comes when we turn our backs on life; when we refuse to love; when, instead of being agents of light, we become agents of darkness. Death can be freely chosen. As to our physical death, it becomes a doorway into the fullness of life.

Questions for reflection

1. What is your attitude toward death?

2. If there were no death, would life be bearable?

Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.

Related Posts

Scroll to Top