The Christian understanding of death is that it is part of life. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a heroic German pastor who died for his faith at the hands of Nazis, left behind some great writings. As he faced his own death, he wrote, “Through I die to this life, I will continue to live in another…dying we shall live.” He was saying that death is a part of life. The secular world, on the other hand, believes quite differently about it all. The secular creed says, “We live and then we die,” and that’s the end of it. Death is the end of life, and there is nothing more. There is obviously a world of difference between the two understandings o death, and I suspect, many of us are closer to the secular thinking, but I wish it was otherwise. Well, it is otherwise! Death is not the end. Lay hold of your Christian Faith, and believe that! Believe yourself into a new way of thinking if that’s what it takes. I like to call death simply the end of the beginning, and the beginning of everlasting life. That’s the Christian Faith, and that’s what needs to be written on your souls so firmly that if all else in your faith comes unglued, it will not. That belief, my friends, needs to be the foundation of your Christian life. And when it is, from that foundation will come a quiet confidence and peace that passes understanding in facing whatever life throws at you.
So, then, why is death such a fearful prospect for most of us? For one thing, it means separation – we’re losing physical contact with the one we love. His or her future may be great, but it’s not great for us. Jesus tells us the departed have a glorious future of light and life ahead of them, in “mansions” that He has prepared for us. Both Jesus and St. Paul try to tell us that what lies just up ahead will be much more beautiful than anything we see here, and we just have to take that on faith. But on the other hand, we are left without our loved one, at least physically speaking. Theologically, maybe there’s joy on the one hand, but there’s a lot of sorrow on the other, and that’s the grieving we do at death.
Peace and blessings,