Editor’s Note: This is the final column of a five-part series Father Jeffrey Kirby is writing for the month of October, which is dedicated to Mary and the rosary.
Fifth Truth: At death, life is changed, not ended.
Awhile back, while ministering to a person with a terminal illness, I was asked, “Father, should I be afraid?”
I reminded the person of the resurrection of Jesus, and confidently assured the person that there is nothing to fear. But it’s a question that reflects our contemporary mind set.
Why is it that nothing seems to clear a room faster than a conversation on death and dying? It’s as if we have something to fear from the very topic of death. If we look into it, we will find that God has lessons for us on this issue as seen in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Death is one of humanity’s most pressing questions because it appears to be a contradiction of the life we live now. It seems to be at odds with our will to live.
Death relativizes the freedom that we normally cherish and protect. Oftentimes, aroused by fear, we see dying as a terrible evil. These are not abstract ideas or emotions. They reveal very concrete and personal concerns.
Within the forum of this restlessness and fear, the Lord Jesus gives humanity the gift of his mother and her glorious assumption into heaven.
Among the many psychological and emotional answers to our questions on death, we have to remind ourselves of the biblical answer: We were not meant to die.
Death is a consequence of sin and our fallen nature. When God created Adam and Eve, the body shared in the immortality of the human soul. The discord of sin changed that harmony. The awareness of this truth rests within each of us with the belief that death is not supposed to happen.
The Lord Jesus, however, destroyed the power of sin and death in our world. While we still feel the effects of our fallen nature, they no longer have the last word. Rather than an ending, death is now a transition from one state of life to another. In Christ, an everlasting life is offered to humanity.
In Mary, we see the first fruits of the Lord’s victory over sin and death. In her assumption, we see a perfected model and shining example of the saving fruits won by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
In Mary’s passage of body and soul from life to eternal life, the effects of the redemption are played out. We can see in Mary what God wants to do in the life of all his children. In her assumption, we see in personal form what will happen at the end of life to all those who are transformed by God’s goodness.
Mary’s life on earth ended as it had always been lived, in trust and closeness to God.
To all the faithful, her life is a witness to hope in God’s grace and in eternal life.
Father Kirby is the parochial vicar at St. Mary Help of Christians Church in Aiken. To read more of his columns, visit his Web site at www.jeffrey-kirby.com.