Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Oh Death Where is Your Sting?

Lent has begun and Christians prepare for the arrival of Easter in their liturgical journey, living the paschal mystery. Attending daily Mass, many hear the readings and  sermons preparing us for a new understanding of our place in God's kingdom, we entered at baptism, and make present in our lives.

A bulletin for priests explains to the readers how often non-believers are mystified by the attitude of Christians, when death comes knocking at the door.  He mentions the words he heard from a medical worker who attended many religious and clerics on their death beds. Many found going to heaven more distasteful than the ordinary Christians and non-believers.

"They speak often about living in God's kingdom and the joys of life with God but when it comes time to go, they do not like the idea."   Priest writer found these words of the medical worker disturbing. He believes we don't have an experiential understanding of living by faith in God's kingdom, united with Christ, in the here and now. He mentions the life of the Little Flower, St.Teresa, who had a strong desire to be with Jesus, rather than in the world.

A president of a purgatorial society in one of the wealthiest areas of Korea is quoted as saying that the wealthier the dying person was, the more difficulty in leaving, and it showed in the face. Was not this the reason, he adds, we hear in Luke 6:20: "Blest are you poor; the reign of God is yours." 

St. Paul tells us to rejoice always, never cease praying, render constant thanks; such is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Is this not a sign of already living in God's kingdom? St.Catherine reminds us of  this truth: "All the way to heaven is heaven, because Jesus is the way."

He concludes the article by reminding us to live daily as members of God's kingdom we entered at baptism. With this understanding of life, we are joyful, thankful for what we have, prepared for battle, and ready to leave in peace. 

On the first day of Lent we received ashes on our forehead, a reminder of where we are headed, prepared to  stare death in the face, overcome its terror, begin living with more passion and more fully, instead of just existing and forgetting our dignity as members of the Body of Christ: disciples already in his kingdom.