Lk 7:11-17 Fear And Glory
A man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. When the Lord saw her, he said to her, “Do not weep.” He stepped forward and touched the coffin and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak. Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming, “A great prophet has arisen in our midst.”
For me, this week has been (for lack of a better word), “Funeral Week.” I, along with my brother priest, have celebrated one funeral after another after another. It has been a rough week. But during this entire time, it has given me an opportunity to reflect on death and the meaning of life. So much fruit has come out of this week that I would like to share with you my thoughts.
I have noticed that when a loved one dies, their family and friends always honor them with memories that could not be purchased or bought. They remember the deceased warmth, affection, time, love, compassion, laughter, joyfulness, honesty, fidelity and integrity with great gratitude and admiration. They remember the sacrifices their dearly beloved made for them! It is a reminder of what we should all be living and striving for. Nothing else really matters.
For me, death has become a clear sign of God’s existence. I know it might sound a little strange, but it is so true. Why do we have to die? Why is it that nature demands that we only have a certain amount of time to live? The natural law as we know it could have been so different, so much friendlier. I am convinced that if a blind force created us, it would have “instinctively” selected the strongest form of life; that is, the type that could not die. If we evolved to become stronger, than why did it stop there? Why not go all the way. Why not live forever!
But it seems as though nature has gone out of its way to ensure that there are plenty of ways to die. We can die from so many natural causes. There are plenty of creatures such as amoebas, viruses and bacteria that are more than willing to do the job quickly and efficiently without regret or remorse, and without any real benefits to themselves! Why on earth was it so important to give man just a brief amount of time, just a few years? If we must die, then why can’t we live as long as the trees? Why can’t I exist as long as a rock? Why is it that we have to grow physically old? That doesn’t seem so wise for survival? That seems to go against the theory of the survival of the fittest. If I am strong, why must I become weak? Why must I give my spot up? So that another can fill it? Why?
The reason, I believe, is all too clear: We are not home. This is not our home. This is not our final destination. If this were our final destination, then we would not have to die. Death serves a purpose. It is either to bring our life to an end (eternal damnation) or it is to reach the end, the goal, of our lives (eternal happiness). Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. What we do on earth will determine what we do in heaven. If I loved on earth, I shall love and be loved in heaven. Earth is the nursery. This is where we grow up. And like all beautiful flowers, in their Master’s garden, we will be pulled and placed in our Master’s home.
Death is not natural. Death is supernatural. It has meaning because life has meaning. And if death is supernatural, one can only imagine how much more supernatural it is when we find those who are more than willing to lay down their lives for others. This is a mystery that is a reality. This is not an absurdity, it is a breathtaking reality. We all have a drive to live longer, but we also have the desire to give it to others. And when someone does just that, we consider them not a lunatic but a hero!
There is a type of twilight zone – a zone between fear and glory. A fear we all have, and a glory we all seek!