Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Death, Destruction, Rebirth, Reconciliation

What does the title of this segment have to do with Christianity, and the difference between Christianity and all other religions?  You must read the entire article to see!

Today, I attended the funeral Mass for my uncle Paul.  As odd as it may seem, I enjoyed it.  Let me explain.  I am not glad he is dead.  I am glad that he is with Jesus, and not suffering.  As it says in the ScripturesBrothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 
The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). 1 Th 4:13.

The thing is, we celebrated his life, and our memories of him.  

The sermon (homily) and eulogy were both very appropriate and related well to the Scriptures used in the celebration: Romans 8:18-27 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope thata the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

a Or subjected it in hope. For
The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). Ro 8:18-27. 
and Matthew 28:16-20  Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them ina the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
a Or into; see Acts 8:16; 19:5; Romans 6:3; 1 Cor. 1:13; 10:2 and Gal. 3:27.
The Holy Bible : New International Version, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, c1984). Mt 28:16-20.  

The priest talked about how my uncle had lived thru suffering, yet without complaining about it, and how he was looking forward to his new life with God.  Not that he gave up fighting for his life here in this world, but he was looking forward to being with God.  He spoke about how the Holy Spirit was present with my uncle during his suffering, and then he went on to talk about how Uncle Paul had been a witness to Jesus wherever he went, and in this way, he fulfilled the "Great Commission." 

My uncle Jim gave the eulogy, and talked about how uncle Paul was not perfect. He struggled thru life.  He was not the best son, the best father, the best husband, or the best brother.  But Paul did love his siblings, his parents, his children, and spouse.  He was a man sorry for his sins, and interested in reconciliation with those from whom he was estranged.  He loved God, and was looking forward to being with Him. Uncle Paul was a great kidder.  He loved to tease, but he would always end his visit assuring his host(ess) that he loved him(her).  He was a fanatic about bowling, from his early days as a child, setting the pins (yes people had to do that at one time, not machines), then as a professional bowler later he scored 2 perfect 300 games.  Uncle Paul had served in the military (Air Force) and was a long haul truck driver.  He loved to travel, and enjoyed the diversity America has to offer.  

My uncle Paul had been diagnosed about 20 years ago with esophageal cancer, and given 6 months to live.  Miraculously, he not only survived, he thrived for the remainder of his life, until about 10 weeks ago.  He succumbed to heart failure, pneumonia, and many other maladies taking him in and out of a hospital and hospice for the last 9 weeks of his life.  His body just shut down, and tho' he fought hard, he just could not recover.

Death and destruction are normal parts of life.  They end our physical life, leading to a rebirth of spiritual life IF we are part of God's family thru Christ.  Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father, except through me."  He also said thru the Apostle Paul, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old is gone, behold the new is come." Jesus said that he had come that we might have life, and have it abundantly.  He sacrificed His life, so we could be reconciled to God.  We were separated by sin from God, and suffered spiritual, as well as physical death.  Jesus conquered death by willingly dying altho' He had not sinned, thereby breaking the bondage of sin and death.  Therefore, those who have been redeemed by Christ's death will not suffer a spiritual death, and even if they die physically prior to Jesus' return, they will be resurrected to spend eternity with Him.