Fridays With Father

Previous ReflectionsFACING DEATH

 

In his second letter to the Thessalonians St. Paul speaks of the Last Judgment.  He cautions them about how they should think about the second coming of Christ.  He did that because it was not uncommon among early Christians to expect the second coming to occur in the near future.  If that were the case, what sense did it make to keep work-ing at their ordinary daily tasks? St. Paul urged the Thessalonians to work quietly at the ordinary tasks of everyday life.

As Christians we believe in life after death.  For that reason we face a special challenge.  It is how to live in this world without making it our center at and at the same time to look beyond this world without neglecting the works of charity and justice that need to be accomplished here and now.

St. Paul’s message is simple.  We should carry out our ordinary tasks of life but do so  in a spirit of faith and hope that goes beyond this life.

Down through history there have always been people predicting the end of the world.  Usually they cite certain disasters, whether natural or man-made, as signs the world is about to end.  Sometimes a definite date is predicted.  When that date passes, the one making the prediction gets a second chance.

In a sense such predictions should be of little interest.  In a real sense the end of the world is always personal.  For me, the end of the world is the day that I die.  If that happens to coincide with the end of the world in the traditional sense the net effect for me is exactly the same.

Thus the real question is not when the world will end but how do I face the fact that I will die.  How do I understand and face the fact of my death?  By inviting us to reflect on the so-called last things (death, judgment, heaven and hell), especially on such feasts as All Souls and All Saints, the Church reminds us of some of our fundamental beliefs as Christians: that death is both an end and a beginning; that life is changed, not taken away; that life, not death, is the ultimate reality; that the story of Christ, assuming a human nature, even to the point of dying on the cross, is the principal model for us in seeking to under-stand and accept the fact of our own death.

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