by Rev. Fr. Alexander Kurien
Resurrection Of The Dead -- In the Gospel according to John, Jesus tells his disciples, "You know the way that leads where I go." Then Apostle Thomas says, "Lord, we do not know where you are going, how can we know the way?' Jesus answers, "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me."
As Christians, we believe that death is not an end. It is a transition. It is not a break in existence. It is a transformation. We believe that when the hour of our death arrives, when our existence on this earth reaches its end, we don't find ourselves facing nothingness. We end up facing the merciful hands of the living God who welcomes us and converts our death in to the beginning of our resurrection. In his letter to Timothy, Paul says, "You can depend on this: if we have died with Christ, we shall also live with him." Paul does not tell Timothy that he should not grieve. We all grieve at the death of a loved one. What Paul says is that we should not grieve as we had lost all hope. Sooner or later this sorrowful separation will end and we will be reunited.
Christians believe that death is not final. We will be raised from the dead. We do not give up our lives in vain; we return them to the Creator. In death we attain the fullness of our being and we reach true life, which we call eternal life. We don't believe that there are two lives, this one and the one beyond the grave. We believe that what some call "the other life" is not "other" at all. In reality it is a continuation of this life. It is the fullness of life that began at baptism and which now reaches its supreme moment when we come into full communion with the Father.
The physical separation that death brings does not mean that that those departed are too far away to feel our love to them. Our love reaches them in the form of prayers. We are with our loved and departed in prayer as we remember the consoling words of Our Lord, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Have faith in God and faith in me. I shall come back to take you with me, that where I am you also may be. You know the way that leads where I go."
The church has set aside this coming Sunday as the Sunday of all departed souls. Many may ask why such importance in praying for the departed. Perhaps someone will say, "How are the dead to be raised up? What kind of body will they have? A nonsensical question! The seed you sow does not germinate unless it dies. When you sow, you do not sow the full-blown plant, but a kernel of wheat or some other grain. God gives body, to it as he pleases---to each seed its own fruition. Not all bodily nature is the same. Men have one kind of body, animals another. Birds are of their kind, fish are of theirs. There are heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies. The splendor of the heavenly bodies is one thing, that of the earthly another. The sun has a splendor of its own, so has the moon, and the stars have theirs. Even among the stars, one differs from another in brightness. So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown in the earth is subject to decay, what rises is incorruptible. What is sown is ignoble, what rises is glorious. Weakness is sown, strength rises up. A natural body is put down and a spiritual body comes up. If there is a natural body, be sure there is also a spiritual body. Scripture has it that Adam, the first man, became a living soul; the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. Take note, the spiritual was not first; first came the natural and after that the spiritual. The first man was of earth, formed from dust, the second is from heaven. Earthly men are like the man of earth, heavenly men are like the man of heaven. Just as we resemble the man from earth, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven. This is what I mean, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; no more can corruption inherit incorruption.
Now I am going to tell you a mystery. Not all of us shall fall asleep, but all of us are to be changed---in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the last trumpet. The trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. This corruptible body must be clothed with incorruptibility, this mortal body with immortality. When the corruptible frame takes on incorruptibility and the mortal immortality, then will the saying of Scripture be fulfilled: "Death is swallowed up in victory." "Oh death, where is your victory? Oh death, where is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and sin gets its power from the law. But thanks be to God who has given us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear friends, it is our responsibility to remember our departed loved ones in prayers so Lord have mercy on their souls at the last judgment.
What we see now is like a dim image in a mirror; then we shall see face-to-face. What I know now is only partial; then it will be complete---As complete as God's knowledge of me. 1Corinthians13:12
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