"The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God, no torment shall every touch them." This is an old testament reading that is very popular at funerals. The Book of Wisdom offers great hope in the face of death. The scriptures are in fact laden with examples of life giving words in the face of the great leveller death. In this month of November the Church invites us to reflect on death as a mystery that faces us all. Nature seems to echo this invitation as the last of the leaves and flowers give way to the grey of winter. Throughout the month Masses and prayers are offered throughout the world for those who have gone before us maked with the sign of faith.
We face death all the time. In the pastoral ministry so much time and energy goes into the care of the dying and the consolation of the bereaved. Funerals take a huge amount of spiritual and emotional effort. For me, choosing the right words at the time of death can be the most challenging of all endeavours. I can write stuff on a blog all I like, but when it comes to a 'real live' event, the power of the spoken words can be a source of great consolation- or maybe not.
The Gospel today invites us to think of death. The Sadduchees, who deny the resurrection of the body, try to trap Jesus with the question of the woman and the seven brothers, and to whom does she belong in the next world. Jesus points out that when we enter into Eternity life we will be completely transformed, in ways we cannot even being to imagine.
Heaven! We spend so little time thinking about it, and even less preaching about it. But at the end of the day it is the only thing that matters; our eternal salvation in Jesus Christ!"Seek first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all else will be given to you". If Heaven is our goal, total and complete eternal union with God, then there is no fear that we will make the wrong decisions in this life that would forfeit such gift. And if we fall, we have the courage and strength to get back up and keep striving onward.
In this month of November, we should remember how short life is, and that Eternity is only a heartbeat away. We pray and do penance for all who are on their journey to Heaven in Purgatory. As we pray for them, let us also remember that on November 2nd next year, we are the ones who could be prayed for! We joyfully wait for "what no eye has seen and no ear has heard" the joys that wait for us in the Father's house.