Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What death took away, the Lord returns

Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.

We are once again confronted by the harsh reality of death not only by the fact that November reminds us of our faithful departed but more so because of the super typhoon Yolanda which recently caused so much loss of life and property to so many Filipinos. The destruction of property can easily be confronted. What nature destroyed, we can easily rebuild. The resilience of the Filipino people, which is oftentimes compared to the bamboo tree, gives us enough hope to say that all is not lost. We will rise from where we have fallen. However, the loss of lives is another matter. We can rebuild that was destroyed but we cannot revive those who have died. This is simply beyond what human powers can do. It seems that all we can do is to bury our dead and move on in grief. Perhaps, we can always reproduce in order to replenish the numbers that we lost. But resurrecting the dead is simply beyond us.
He promised to resurrect...and so he did

It is in moments such as this that the Lord speaks a timely word to us: “Those who are deemed worthy…to the resurrection of the dead…can no longer die, for they are like angels; and they are the children of God because they are the ones who will rise.” The Lord clearly speaks of the future resurrection of the dead. Our loss is not permanent but only temporary. Those who have been taken away from us by death will be brought back to us by the Lord on the day of the resurrection. God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to Him all are alive.”

It is the assurance of the resurrection that gave the martyrs the courage they needed to face death, even in its most tortuous forms. The courageous witness of the seven Maccabean brothers shows us that their tremendous courage in the face of death came from the certitude of the resurrection: “You are depriving us of this present life, but the King of the world will raise us up to live again.” They were not even afraid to lose their limbs to torturers: “It was from Heaven that I received these. For the sake of his laws I disdain them. From him I hope to receive them again.”

Thus, in the face of the loss of lives, we are told by St. Paul: “You must not grieve as others who do not have hope.” [1 Th 4:13] The assurance of the resurrection makes a great difference in our lives. Pope emeritus Benedict wrote: “we see as a distinguishing mark of Christians the fact that they have a future: it is not that they know the details of what awaits them, but they know in general terms that their life will not end in emptiness. Only when the future is certain as a positive reality does it become possible to live the present as well.” [Spe Salvi, 2.] We know that we have a future. We know that our lives will not end in emptiness. Death does not have the final say for us. We know for sure that beyond death is the resurrection. This certitude of a positive future helps us live the present as well. Yes, we may have lost the ones we love but we shall have them back. The Lord will restore them to life. We know that He will do this because he is always faithful to his word. He has risen as he said. Therefore, we are so sure that he will raise back to life our mortal bodies to be like his own risen body. Indeed, God “has loved us and has given us everlasting encouragement and good hope through his grace…” Let us live for God and courageously face death “with the hope of being raised up by him.” “God is not the God of the dead but of the living” we will always live in him.

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.

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