Last Sunday 20.11.16 Happy death
If nothing else in our lives we can at least get the ending right.
Deathbed conversions are possible, though it is not recommended to leave it that late.
We can speak of a ‘happy death’. It means a death which is well-provided for in spiritual terms.
If we die in a state of grace we will be saved. Since we do not know the time of our death the only way to guarantee a favourable judgment is to be always in a state of grace. That takes the sting out of death, or at least the worst of the it.
We can then speak of death as merely falling asleep, which is how the Church speaks of it: falling asleep in the Lord (1 Th 4,14)
To be always in a state of grace means that we are constantly interacting with God, having His grace work in us, inspiring us to do His will, giving us the strength to avoid every kind of sin – and this all day and every day.
We recall the parable of the faithful servants, who are at their posts doing the master’s business at all times, ready for his return. (Lk 12,36) Or the wise bridesmaids who always had enough oil to keep their lamps lit, waiting for the bridegroom (Mt 25,1-13).
Our Lord gives us these images, not to frighten us, but to prepare us; to wake us up and inspire us.
He is not trying to trap us; far from it. He wants us to be saved, more than we want it.
The warnings are there to remind us of how important it is that we get our lives on the right note; and especially at the end.
That is His purpose in keeping these things before our minds; lest we grow complacent or distracted with the passing of time.
Union with Him is the paramount concern at any moment. He is the pivotal point. With Him we are safe; away from Him we are lost.
We return to union with Him, or increase that union, through the sacraments, and keeping the commandments.
We do not let ourselves be distracted from this main point, even if the times are turbulent, or become even more so.
We do not fully understand the prophecies such as in today’s Gospel. The general point of these prophecies is to ensure that we brace ourselves for a certain amount of conflict, and not be too alarmed by anything that happens.
The devil will throw everything at us. But we shall prevail against him, if we read the signs (Gospel), keep calm, and draw strength from Our Lord. Then we have nothing to fear.
At one level we have to find natural disasters scary. But only at one level. The thing that we really have to be afraid of is to be separate from God.
Fear him who can cast both body and soul into hell (Mt 10,28).
We can also go some way to reducing the severity of the threatened disasters by making sincere repentance and reparation. If enough people repented there will be no need for disasters (cf Gen 18,16-33: what if there are five good men in the city?)
We can defuse the threatening prophecies, and bring to fulfilment the more hopeful ones.
To be ready every day, to meet the Lord, in whatever form He might reveal Himself – this is the plan. We do not need to know exactly what He has in mind; just be ready to play our part.
Happy death, happy life. To live and die in union with the Lord!