Chapter 19. Death and Resurrection
Drawn by Rudolf Koch. Courtesy of Arion Press.
Sister death will meet us all at the end of our earthly life like a window or portal to eternal life. May our lives be worthy of eternal life with God in Heaven. "Death has no more power over Him" (Romans 6:9). "Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (1 Corinthians 15:54–55) "...Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen." "Jesus and Mary, I love you. Save souls." Our faith is in the Risen Lord who will transform this earthly body of ours too in the Resurrection.
Alleluia! Our faith and hope are in the Resurrection of Jesus, God's only begotten Son. The Empty Tomb—He is Risen! Alleluia! May we meet Him in the garden like Mary Magdalene, and treasure His Presence in the Word and the Eucharist, and finally upon our death may we see His radiant Holy Face and hear Him call our name. The burial shroud of Our Lord recalls not only His passion and death but also His Resurrection on Easter morning. Images of the terrible instruments of His death and the loving flowers left surrounding His Body are imprinted upon the cloth, a sign of forgiveness and reconciliation. The Holy Face of our Risen Lord shines beyond the veil separating this world and the next. He sends us forth to teach all nations. He sends His Holy Spirit, the Advocate to remind us of all that He has told us.
The seed germinating and the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, remind us of the transforming power of the Resurrection and new life. God wants us to share in His Life in Heaven after our earthly life. As the Baltimore Catechism taught, "God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world so as to be forever happy with him in the next." We pray for our departed brothers and sisters so that they may share in that Life, and that we may rejoice with them too in Heaven someday. We look forward to restoration and renewal. Humankind awaits the Parousia, the Second Coming of Jesus. We do not know the day or the hour but we joyfully await Him whether it is soon or millennia from now. "There will be a new Heavens and a new earth" (Is 65:17, Rev 21:1). There will be no more sadness or pain for all will rejoice in God's eternal home. "Maranatha—Come Lord Jesus" (Rev 22:20).
Your people will rise to life! Tell them to leave their graves and celebrate with shouts. You refresh the earth like morning dew; you give life to the dead.
Ezekiel 37:1–7 (NIV)
The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" I said, "O Sovereign LORD, you alone know." Then he said to me, "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, 'Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.'" So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone.
John 11:25 (NIV)
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies..."
Romans 8:18–23 (NIV)
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
1 Corinthians 15:21, 42 (NIV)
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. ...So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable...
1 Peter 1:3 (NIV)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead...
1 Peter 3:21
Those flood waters were like baptism that now saves you. But baptism is more than just washing your body. It means turning to God with a clear conscience, because Jesus Christ was raised from death.
At the moment of death each one knows what is authoritative for him. Unfortunately we forget this when alive.
—St. Maximilian Kolbe. Aim Higher!: Spiritual and Marian reflections of St. Maximilian Kolbe. Prow Books / Franciscan Marytown Press.
Psalm 96 celebrates God's Kingship and the manifestation of His divine glory upon the earth. The Psalm opens with the solemn proclamation: "The Lord reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad". ... The psalmist describes the coming onto the world scene of the Great King who appears surrounded by a series of ministers or cosmic attendants: clouds, darkness, fire, lightning. Next to them, another series of ministers personifies His historic action: justice, law, glory. Their entrance makes all of creation tremble. The earth rejoices in all places, including islands, considered to be the most remote areas. The heavens are crossed by angelic hymns that exalt justice, that is, the work of salvation fulfilled by the Lord for the just. ... The advent of God's Kingdom is a source of liberation to the oppressed and joy to the upright of heart. During this Easter season, let us celebrate with renewed hope the glorious power of God revealed in the Resurrection, His definitive judgement upon sin and death and the advent of His Kingdom of holiness, justice and peace.
—Pope John Paul II, 3 April 2002 (VIS—Vatican Information Service). With permission.
Easter is a joyful season, an uplifting happiness, singing "Alleluia!", a re-awakening to the dawn of our eternal promise, the transformation made possible by Jesus Who conquered sin and death.—Alleluia! May every Sunday, indeed every day, every sunrise, every moment remind us that we are an "Easter people" called to proclaim Good News to all people and all creation, at all times, by our prayer, actions, and good works. Alleluia!
Image of the Face on the Shroud, with 3-D enhancementformed by superimposing the positive and negative images and shifting them vertically out of alignment. Photo courtesy of Alan D. Whanger, Council for Study of the Shroud of Turin.
(C) 2002 by Anthony R. Brach.