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Value of our Birth and Death: Weekly Message for 04-25-2023
Dear Friends in Christ,
This Lent and Easter I had the opportunity to reflect at length on life and death. A friend from where I regularly receive an IV treatment asked for the Anointing of the Sick, Confession, and Communion, and I was able to connect him with a priest for these sacraments. In the process, we conversed about suffering, death, life and heaven, which have since been a source of prayer for me. I hope that sharing some of my reflections helps you in your prayer, and I invite you to pray for this friend of mine to find peace in this journey we all must make toward eternity.
There is something inside each of us which pushes us to live. In creating us, God made it worth it to live, and we want to. Yes, life has value. It’s worth it to live: There are so many beautiful things to experience in life. But death also has value: By dying for us, Jesus made it worth it to die. And it’s worth it to die if we hope in heaven. The act of suffering death has value, too, since the Lord suffered death as well.
In the Exultet, the Easter Proclamation sung at the Easter vigil, one line stood out this Holy Saturday: “Our birth would have been no gain, had we not been redeemed” (Exultet of Easter Vigil, long version). These words returned to my thoughts over and over throughout this Easter Season. With all that life has to offer, it gives me nothing if I am not redeemed. If all I have to look forward to in life is death, I’m either going to want to live forever, or, realizing this impossibility, I will want to end it as soon as death’s reality imposes itself. If there is something more, though, then redemption really becomes the beginning and end of it—my motivation for life and for death. If God came to save me, to give me eternal life, I want that—whether it means living or dying, suffering or ease.
Like the parable of the weeds and wheat (Mt. 13:24-43), in life, the pain and the suffering are there along with the beauty, fruitfulness and life. In death it’s the same; the agony and detachment, the pain and suffering are all present, but so are the hope of heaven, joy of going to meet the Lord and unchanging and eternal love of our Savior, who died to get us to heaven with him.
Another Exultet line reads, “Christ broke the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld” (Exultet of Easter Vigil, long version). Our Redeemer became human: he suffered, bled and died. But it doesn’t end with death for him. He died to conquer death for all of us. He died to rise again and bring us with him to heaven, our true home.
In the end, it boils down to this one question: Do I believe it? No one can believe it for me. No one can hope in heaven for me. It’s a free choice- it’s up to me.
So, consider well: Do I believe in heaven or not? Do I really want to go there? If so, what do I have to do to make sure this is my choice?
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Thank you for sharing your thoughtful reflection, Nicole! Really appreciate this during Easter season. Food for thought and prayer.
Nicole, you’ve tweeked a wonder I’ve always had which was ‘Why would He be willing to go as far as death, death on a cross if heaven was just another place? ‘But, but, what if ‘What eye has never seen, or ear has never heard’ wasn’t so much a place, as it is a relationship? Would that warrant such a sacrifice?
I agree, the relationship is more than the place. Jesus, May I be with you, wherever you are!
Thank you Nicole for reminding me to ask myself those two vital questions: Do I really believe and Do I really want to go there? It is my desire to be accompanied by Jesus on the journey through life and death, so thank you for this beautiful way of looking at Redemption during the Easter Season!