By Fr. Roy Cimagala
ON the Commemoration of the All the Faithful Depart, or All Souls’ Day, celebrated on November 2, we are reminded of these very reassuring words of Christ: “Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and I will not reject anyone who comes to me, because I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” (Jn 6,37-38)
He further said to clarify things even more: “And this is the will of the one who sent me, that I should not lose anything of what he gave me, but that I should raise it on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6,39-40)
I believe it is most worthwhile to meditate on these words often to convince ourselves that we should never be afraid of death because as long as we believe in Christ, we are assured of eternal life, of achieving the ultimate and definitive dignity of ours as God’s image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his divine life and nature.
If our faith is strong in these words of Christ, we know that death is actually a most welcome event because it represents our salvation, our liberation from exile and alienation from God. Death would mean that we have successfully passed the test God has given us in this earthly life of ours.
That is why, the saints were never afraid of death. In fact, they would look forward to it, irrespective of whether death came through natural causes or through martyrdom or accident, etc.
The secret, of course, of converting our death as a way to our liberation and salvation is to die with Christ. Only with him can our resurrection, our victory over sin and death, take place after our death. St. Paul encapsulated this most wonderful truth of our faith when he said, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6,5)
No wonder then that Christ culminated his redemptive work with his passion and death on the cross which provided the ransom for all our sins. Only then would his own resurrection take place. Christ made this point clear when after being rightly identified by Peter as ‘the Christ of God,’ he proceeded to talk about his passion, death and resurrection.
“The Son of Man must suffer greatly,” he said, “and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed and on the third day be raised.” (Lk 9,22)
We have to deepen our belief that with Christ’s resurrection, sin and death have been definitively conquered, and a new life in God is made available to us. We are now a new creation, with the power of Christ to conquer sin and death and everything else that stands in the way of our becoming true children of God.
And so, we have every reason to think that we can live forever in Christ over whom death no longer has dominion. In spite of whatever, we have every reason to be happy and confident, as long as we are faithful to Christ.
We just need to realize more deeply that Christ is alive and wants to live his life with us, because we are patterned after him. Let us not miss this most golden opportunity.