Death From the Perspective of Faith: Part II

resurrected body

By Antonio J Galindo Aleman

Read Part I

The absurd idea of wanting to create a paradise on earth falls apart in the face of death. The Church has an opportunity to give the answer to death during this pandemic. As St. Paul says, “Now is the real-time of favor, now the day of salvation is here” (2 Cor 6:2). Now is the time for the New Evangelization. Now is the time to show the world, not only through words but especially through our actions that Christ has truly risen! Now is the time to show all that “Death is swallowed up in victory” (1 Cor 15: 54) and God has given us an answer to the ‘absurdity’ of life.

Death is the Door to Life

Christians are called to live knowing and showing “life is Christ, and death is gain” (Phil 1:21). We should live without fear of death. This is not a theory; this is something every Christian can experience because Christ has truly risen! Now is the time to announce that this life is not the only thing we have because God has given us the way to participate in the divine life, an endless life. Now the world needs to see people can walk over the waters of death because Christians are not afraid of death.

Saint Paul converted when he saw Saint Stephen die. Fr. Josef Holzner in his book ‘Paul of Tarsus’ expresses this when he says:

He looks into the eyes of these dying Christians, and Paul discerns something he has never seen before. He sees a mildness, an expression of inward blessedness, of higher life, of a union with the risen Christ which is disturbed by no pain and no horror inflicted by men; they seem to be in communication with Christ who assures them that they are passing over to a new life and not to death.

Christians are called to do TODAY to show death is the door to life. The whole world is discovering they are under the power of the fear of death. They see it more clearly, now they have opened their ears. It is the moment to become the voice which cries in the desert that Christ is risen; death has been overcome and our sins have been forgiven. The present life is just a pilgrimage towards our homeland in Heaven.

Albert Camus thought humans being were not really free because of the fear of death. Christianity has an answer to Camus in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are not slaves of death anymore; we are not condemned to be constantly defending our own lives in a selfish way. Now we can love without being destroyed. This is the most essential need of human beings, to know God loves them.

God has given an answer to our sufferings. God has given a solution to our problems. This is what is really essential in life and not alcohol, drugs, or sex or money. This is the only answer which solves the main suffering of the human heart. “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?” (Mk 8:36) This is the main attack the Church is receiving today, to try to put the spiritual life as if it is not something essential for human life. In Spain and Italy, the police are interrupting the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the clergy is not allowed to enter into the hospital to give the sacraments and accompany the dying. It seems Christians can live the sacramental life online.

The Church is an Assembly

The Church is a physical community of persons who make present the body of Christ. “Church means a convocation or an assembly. It designates the assemblies of the people, usually for a religious purpose. Ekklesia is used frequently in the Greek Old Testament for the assembly of the Chosen People before God, above all for their assembly on Mount Sinai where Israel received the Law and was established by God as his holy people.

By calling itself “Church,” the first community of Christian believers recognized itself as heir to that assembly.” In the Church, God is “calling together” his people from all the ends of the earth. The equivalent Greek term Kyriake, from which the English word Church and the German Kirche are derived, means, “what belongs to the Lord.” (CCC, 751) That is why; if we continue quiet, we are confirming to the world that the Church is not essential and the Gospel is not so important as to give up our lives. Christian must step out for the reopening of the Churches; we must step out we may be allowed to enter into the hospitals to accompany those who are dying alone to help them to die, giving them the sacraments and the hope of eternal life. All these things can be done with prudence protecting ourselves.

Our Mission

The solution is not to stop the mission of the Church but to find ways in which we can continue the mission of the Church during this time. We must go out and show the world what science and technology are not able to show, that Christ is risen! That death has been destroyed! 

This is what many saints have done throughout the history of the Church. They faced authorities, sicknesses, difficult situations, and even death to bring the Gospel to the world. The Pope has said, ‘Drastic measures are not always good’. By saying, this he is not trying to make a revolt and not obey the security measures governments are taking to stop the pandemic, but he is saying that we must find a way through which the Church makes herself present to her children in this moment of suffering always respecting the security measures.

We can celebrate Mass with social distance may be in the parking lot of the Church, as some Bishops and Priest are doing around the world. Maybe by doing small groups of people gathering to make the Body of Christ present through a liturgical life. Maybe we must buy hazmat suits as Putin did, to go into the hospitals. The Church never abandoned her children throughout the history of the Church and must make herself present in this moment of the pandemic. My parents and family never abandoned me when I was living in deep sin, they never abandoned me when I was sick or when I was living a double life against them, and the same my community never abandoned me in the moments of suffering, time crisis, and times of sickness of my life. They were always there making present the risen Lord. Even now, when I was sick with the coronavirus and was hospitalized the first answer of my parents was to try to come to the hospital to accompany me in my suffering without thinking about the risk of getting the virus, but they were not allowed. 

Real Love

This is love. Love does not think about risk or cost, loves gives everything without limit. This is the mission of the Church, to make present the Risen Lord in every moment of our lives. Thus, you who are Christians, “Strengthen hands that are feeble, make firm knees that are weak, Say to the fearful of heart: Be strong, do not fear!” (Is 35:3-4), go out and announce the Gospel. 

Remember we must obey the authorities but “We must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) and the command that the Lord has given us is to “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature” showing the world that we are not afraid of death, that we are not afraid of coronavirus or of economic crisis. Show to the world that we pick up serpents, that we drink any deadly thing and it does not harm us. That we lay the hands on the sick who are afraid of death, and they lose the fear of death by experiencing the power of the resurrection of Christ. (Mk 16:15-18) We must not be afraid of getting the virus, besides that there is a very small probability to die of it according to the statistics if you do not have a previous condition.

Persecution

We must understand the nature of the Church is to be persecuted. Since the beginning of the human life of Christ, he was persecuted. When he was in the womb of Mary, the image of the Church that carries in her womb the risen Lord, He was persecuted by Herod who wanted to kill him, even when he was not born yet. If the Church stays quiet, close, and doing nothing, she will be criticized for not doing anything to spread the Gospel at this time. If She begins to do something to spread the Gospel, She will be criticized for disobeying the authorities.

The Church is going to be persecuted anyway, but it is better to be persecuted by giving her life than by keeping it. This concrete moment of the New Millennium is a critical moment to make Jesus Christ present to the world. Now is the time to show that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rm 8: 38-39).

Antonio Galindo is originally from Spain. He is 25 years old and came to live in the EEUU in 2014 together with his family as a missionary family of the Catholic Church. He has been studying for the priesthood for five years.

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