29 March 2007. Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent
John 8, 51-59 Those who Keep God’s Word will Not See Death
Two days ago, the grandmother of a choir member passed away at 92. A former student from Xavier School met an accident while driving. He was 16 years old. I bring communion to a terminally ill cancer patient and a few months back, I said mass with children with cancer. The Gospel today talks about Jesus claim against the end of life. He said that if anyone who keeps His word will never die. But the Jews countered that all the great people of the bible like Abraham and the prophets. They all kept God’s word and yet they died. Likewise, people today wonder why the good ones die young. Many of these people were kind and selfless.
But Jesus meant not physical death, but something far deeper. If a person accepts Jesus, death has lost its finality. He has entered into a relationship that is timeless and eternal. And thus, death is not an end to our life. Science claims that human life begins from life and ends in death; but our faith teaches us that our life begins from life to a better life. Death is a transition where “life is changed not ended” (Preface, Christian Death).
As I write this homily, a hostage crisis looms in Manila. Jun Ducat who brought them to school holds children in a school bus captive. The kidnapper demands from the government an end to graft and corruption, scholarships to all the children in the bus, etc. The parents face the possibility of death.
There are many instances when in the course of our life we are faced with the possibility of death. In sickness, for example, our lives are threatened thus, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick with confession is done once for every situation. If a patient is in the hospital for surgery, the patient is given the anointing; however, if the patient has recovered but has relapsed, then the anointing can be repeated.
In these situations, we are faced with our limitations; but we are also faced with the question of eternity. If I die, what will be my timeless contributions to my family and to those I love? What are the things that stay?
*My former high school students who are graduating from college this year: Sheena Andeo, Jon Manlunas, Joefree Semilla, Arthur Dela Llana.