God Created Man for Life, Not Death
Gospel Commentary for the Feast of All Souls' Day
By Father Raniero Cantalamessa, OFM Cap
ROME, NOV. 5, 2007 (Zenit) - The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed is the occasion for an existential reflection on death.
In Scripture we read this solemn declaration: "For God made not death, neither does he take pleasure in the destruction of the living ... for he created man for immortality. God made him an image of his own nature. But death entered the world because of the devil's envy" (Wisdom 1:13-15, 24).
From this we understand why we are so much repulsed by death. It is because death is not "natural" for us. As we experience it in the present order of things it is something extraneous to our nature, fruit of "the devil's envy." Because of this we fight against it with all our might. Our indomitable rejection of death is the best proof that we are not made for it, and that it does not have the last word. The first reading of the Mass reassures us of this: "The souls of the just are in the hands of God, no torment can touch them."
Fear of death is written deeply into every human being. There have been those who have wanted to trace every human activity back to the sexual instinct and explain everything by it, even art and religion. But the fear of death is stronger still than the sexual instinct, and the latter is but a manifestation of the former. All of humanity cries out: "I do not want to die!"
Why, then, should we ask men to think about death if it is already so present to us? The answer is simple: We have chosen not to think about it. We pretend that it does not exist, or that it exists only for others, but not for ourselves.
But the thought of death does not allow itself to be put aside so easily. So, all we can do is repress it or play down its seriousness. Men have never ceased to look for remedies to death. One of these is called offspring: surviving through one's children. Another is fame. In our day a new pseudo-remedy is spreading: the doctrine of reincarnation.
The doctrine of reincarnation is incompatible with the Christian faith, which professes the resurrection of the dead in its place. "It is established that men die only once and after this there is judgment" (Hebrews 9:27). The manner in which reincarnation is taught to us in the West is the fruit of, among other things, a glaring error. Originally, reincarnation did not add to life, but rather added to suffering; it was not cause for consolation, but for fear. Reincarnation was a warning to humanity: "Be careful not to do evil because you will be reborn to expiate it!" It is like telling someone in prison who is about to finish serving his time, that his punishment has been extended and he must start all over.
Christianity has something quite different to offer in regard to the problem of death. It proclaims that "one has died for all," that death has been defeated; it is no longer a precipice over which all must plunge, but rather a bridge to the other shore -- eternity. Nevertheless, reflecting on death is also good for believers. It helps us, above all, to live better.
Are you troubled by problems, difficulties, conflicts? Think about how these things will appear at the moment of death and see how they take on a different meaning. We will not then be resigned and paralyzed. On the contrary, we will do more things and do them better because we are more calm, more detached. Counting our days, the Psalm says, we "arrive at the wisdom of the heart" (Psalm 89:12).
* * *
Father Raniero Cantalamessa is the Pontifical Household preacher. The readings for the feast of All Souls' Day are Wisdom 3:1-9; Revelation 21:1-5, 6-7; Matthew 5:1-12.
http://www.catholic.org CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000
God, All Souls, Cantalamessa
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- Daily Reading for Friday, June 23rd, 2017 HD Video
- A Serial Killer's Last Words: The hidden motive behind Ted Bundy's ...
- On the Path to Sainthood: The remarkable story of a young women and ...
- North Korea's secret strategy revealed HD Video
- The unexpected, special gift Pope Francis presented to the King and ...
- Daily Readings for Thursday, June 22, 2017
- St. Thomas More: Saint of the Day for Thursday, June 22, 2017
- What if an asteroid strikes near you? HD
- Daily Reading for Thursday, June 22nd, 2017 HD
- Killer supervolcano under Yellowstone stirs as 500 earthquakes hit park HD
- Daily Reading for Wednesday, June 21st, 2017 HD