Friday, November 18, 2016

LIFE BEYOND DEATH


Homily for November 19th, 2014: Luke 20:27-40.

          Our lives are a journey. The journey begins at birth, most people would say, and ends at death. Christians know that the second part of that statement is false. Death is not the end of our journey. We journey on beyond death – to God. But what will our life beyond death be like?  Priests get this question often. Perhaps this answer will help.

Go back in imagination, if you can, to a week before you were born. You were in your mother’s womb. You recognized the sound of her voice. You were moving about, but could not see. You could not possibly imagine what lay ahead of you: emerging into an initially frightening world; learning to move more freely, first to crawl, then to walk; learning to talk, to write, to read; learning later, perhaps, to play a musical instrument, to draw, to speak and read a second language. You could not possibly have imagined any of this in advance. Life beyond death, is something like that – yet infinitely more wonderful.

St. Thomas Aquinas, one the Church’s greatest theologians, writes: “Eternal life is the perfect fulfillment of desire; inasmuch as each of the blessed will have more than he desired or hoped for. The reason for this is that in this life no one can fulfill his desires, nor can any creature satisfy a person’s craving; for God alone satisfies and infinitely surpasses our desire ... Eternal life consists in the joyful companionship of all the blessed, a companionship which is full of delight; since each one will possess all good things together with all the blessed, for they will all love one another as themselves, and, therefore, will rejoice in one another’s happiness as if it were their own, and consequently the joy and gladness of one will be as great as the joy of all.”

The English Benedictine, Cardinal Basil Hume, one of the great men of the Church in the late twentieth century wrote, shortly before his death of cancer on June 17th 1999: “We each have a story, or part of one at any rate, about which we have never been able to speak to  anyone. Fear of being misunderstood. Inability to understand. Ignorance of the darker side of our hidden lives, or even shame, make it very difficult for many people. Our true story is not told, or, only half of it is. What a relief it will be to whisper freely and fully into the merciful and compassionate ear of God. That is what God has always wanted. He waits for us to come home. He receives us, his prodigal children, with a loving embrace. In that embrace we start to tell him our story. I now have no fear of death. I look forward to this friend leading me to a world where I shall know God and be known by Him as His beloved son.”