Love should inspire our death
WE need to examine how our attitude is towards death which is unavoidable in our life here on earth. It’s, of course, a worthwhile exercise because many of us today have a wrong understanding of death that would lead us to unnecessary fears. Also, the many riveting concerns we have at the moment often prevent us from doing this important and crucial exercise.
Death should be understood, first of all, as a consequence of sin. In the beginning when our first parents were still in the state of original justice, death was an unknown. They were not supposed to die. Their and our immortality was supposed to cover not only our spiritual life but also our bodily life.
But death as a consequence of sin has been redeemed by Christ already. Remember what St. Paul said about this: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?” (1 Cor 15,55) With the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, the curse of death has been removed.
And so we should not be afraid of death anymore. As long as we have the same attitude that Christ had toward death, we will consider death as a liberation, a transition to our eternal life of bliss with God in heaven, a happy conclusion of our creation and redemption by Christ.
That is how we should look at death in any way or form it can come to us. We can even have some kind of healthy and welcoming attitude toward it. Some saints who already knew the character and purpose of death would even call it “my sister death.”
The secret is to have the mind and attitude of Christ toward death. He looked at it as a supreme act of love. “Greater love has no one than this,” he said, “to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15,13)
Death should, therefore, not just be a consequence of illness or old age or some accident. It has to be inspired by love—love for God and love for others. It has to be freely done and offered in the tenor of Christ’s words: “No one takes my life from me. I give my life of my own free will. I have the authority to give my life, and I have the authority to take my life back again. This is what my Father ordered me to do.” (Jn 10,18)
And so, we just have to make sure that whenever we consider death, it should always be in the context of love, of obedience to God’s will, of the redemption of mankind. We should not get stuck on the medical or emotional aspects, etc., although they too should be given due consideration.
Let us try to always follow what St. Paul said in this regard: “If we live, we live for the Lord. And if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Rom 14,8)
In other words, our dying is our way of identifying ourselves more and more with Christ, as articulated and explained by St. Paul in the following verses:
“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” (2 Cor 4,11)
“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God.” (Gal 2,20)
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phil 1,21)
“If we died with Christ, we will also live with Christ.” (2 Tim 2,11)
We need to have a theological understanding and attitude toward death.