When Jesus speaks about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Gospels, he explains that the Father “is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living” (Matt. 22:32). Luke adds, “He is not the God of the dead but of the living, for all live to Him” (Luke 20:38). Abraham is alive in heaven and can communicate with the rich man. Furthermore, the saints and angels see and hear what we say and pray; they are alive in God and intercede for us.
The Fear of Death
Death is usually avoided in our modern society. Most fear death and do not know how to prepare to die. It is precisely during the important process of dying that God often manages to pierce through people’s wounds and the walls they have built to shut out His love. God tries to lead people who are dying back into His heart. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us the real meaning of a Christian death:
Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition….. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul’s: “My desire is to depart and be with Christ. “. . . I am not dying; I am entering life. – CCC, n. 1009-1011
For a Christian, death is not the end but the beginning.
My Father Is Dying
And now, I face death once again in western Canada, three time zones away from my husband, nine children, and seven grandchildren with my eighty-four-year-old father who is dying, slowly fading away. At 132 lb, he is a shadow of his former self, staying in bed in a dim room with his eyes closed for 23 hours a day. Perhaps he is giving up on life because he is deaf, almost blind from macular degeneration, and is in pain all over, making even swallowing difficult. Although he is not fighting to live, he is afraid of death, of the unknown.
When my father dies, I don’t have to say goodbye but just whisper a prayerful hello as I let go of our earthly relationship and embrace a new, invisible relationship with him. God mysteriously unites all of us and I know from experience there is neither time nor distance when we live and move and breathe in the Spirit. Life and death are not as far apart as I had once presumed.
Copyright 2017 Melanie Jean Juneau