Most of us believe in life after death. We believe “in the resurrection from the dead”. But many of us are preoccupied in trying to get the best out of our daily life to pay much attention to an eventuality that will happen to everyone. It is almost like saying “we’ll see what happens when we get there”.
But “get there” we all will; some blessed with time to prepare through illness while others unfortunately, all too suddenly. Today’s readings speak of crossing the divide between life and death. Through quite a dramatic account, the first reading speaks of the choices we make in our daily life, of whether we have the chosen the way of God or that of man.
The “way of man” is present in the daily buzz and busy-ness of daily life. This buzz and busy-ness is not in itself wrong. In fact, born into this world we must journey through it but in this buzz and busy-ness are the opportunities for us to make the choice to live “the way of God”.
“Ours is the better choice, to meet death at men’s hands, yet relying on God’s promise that we shall be raised up by him; whereas for you there can be no resurrection, no new life”.
To die is to cross a divide so as to live on. The choice for most of us to live on into “new life” does not come at the point of death but gently, forgivingly in each choice we make in the buzz and busy-ness of daily life. It is in the small actions of what we do for others that our choice for new life is made.
We must live life in the fullness of Christ. We must live a life of selfless giving for others and for God. And when we do so, we make real for others and ourselves the assurance given to us at baptism for “they can no longer die, for they are the same as angels, and being children of the resurrection they are sons of God”.
We can be this experience of hope and promise to the people we encounter in our daily life, especially in all we can do for them. Personal experiences are powerful as they set us into a deep conviction and onto an unwavering course to claim the promise of life after death.
We were at the bedside of a loved one waiting for death to take her away. On the night of the fifth day of the vigil she said that it was difficult to die as we were clinging on to her. Asked if she wanted a personal goodbye from each family member, she asked instead that we all gather around her bed for prayer. At the end of the prayer, she waved her hand in farewell uttering, “Alleluia, alleluia!
She was never schooled and is not able to read nor write. Her participation in prayer with us and at mass had always been limited to one word. “Amen”. For her to say “Alleluia” was extraordinary in itself. She also then waved away attempts to pray on.
With “Alleluia, alleluia” as her final words to us, she began crossing the divide between life and death. By the time the sun rose to a new day, she was across on the other side.
When she uttered “Alleluia, alleluia”, she must have seen the angels and all her loved ones who had gone before her descending with the communion of saints to bring her into new life after death. For that must be the reason for her to proclaim “Alleluia, alleluia!” Glory and praise to God, indeed. She must have seen.
She lived her daily life choosing the way of God, clinging on to the beatitude “for blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.
Experiencing this crossing of the divide made the resurrection from the dead powerfully real for me. I too ‘saw’ and can respond with today’s psalm, “Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full”.
32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time