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Wednesday 12 May 2021

Restless heart The company of the dear departed

The company of the dear departed

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It is inconvenient for a Neapolitan to speak of death because he knows that a negative reaction is immediate in the listeners; nevertheless, the Neapolitans are faithful to the memory of their deceased relatives, prepare special sweets in November and go to the cemeteries.

However, in Naples as elsewhere the question is legitimate as to what will happen to the fulfillment of earthly life and Pope Benedict spoke well of it:
"We today are often a little afraid of talking about eternal life. We talk about things that are useful for the world, we show that Christianity also helps to improve the world, but we dare not say that its goal is eternal life and that the criteria of life come from that goal. We must understand again that Christianity remains a "fragment" if we do not think about this goal ... and we must again recognize that only in the great perspective of eternal life does Christianity reveal all the meaning. We must have the courage, the joy, the great hope that eternal life exists, it is true life and from this true life comes the light that illuminates this world too".
(From the homily for the Holy Mass with the Pontifical Biblical Commission, April 17, 2010).

St. Paul says that "he was kidnapped in paradise and heard unspeakable words that it is not lawful for anyone to pronounce"(Second letter to the Corinthians); and this is apparently a rip-off. We have a witness who has been in heaven and comes to tell us that it is not lawful to pronounce what he heard, leaving us dry-mouthed. In the first letter to the Corinthians it is expressed in a similar way: "Those things which eye did not see, nor ear heard, nor ever entered the heart of man, these prepared God for those who love him". In reality something interesting Paul tells us: what awaits us is so far above our imagination that it is impossible to transmit it by human means. This is already comforting.

The company of the dear departed
The company of the dear departed (pixabay.com)

My and our inability to imagine Heaven is legitimized.

On this subject, Jesus clearly pronounces himself by taking advantage of a trap that the Sadducees tend to him:

Some Sadducees then approached him, denying that there is a resurrection, and asked him this question: «Master, Moses has prescribed us: If someone dies who has a wife, but without children, his brother takes the widow and gives descent to his brother. There were therefore seven brothers: the first, after taking a wife, died childless. Then took the second and then the third and so all seven; and all died without leaving children. Finally, the woman also died. So this woman, in the resurrection, whose wife will she be? Because all seven had her as a wife. "

The Sadducees had thought it well: apparently it is a dead end ambush. Their mistake is similar to ours when we think with a too human meter.

Jesus replied: «The children of this world take a wife and take a husband; but those who are judged worthy of the other world and of the resurrection from the dead, do not marry or husband; nor can they die any longer, because they are equal to angels and, being children of the resurrection, they are children of God.

Then the dead rise again, Moses also pointed out about the bush, when he calls the Lord: God of Abraham, God of Isaac and God of Jacob. God is not God of the dead, but of the living; because everyone lives for him ».

Saint Paul places the resurrection of Christ as a pillar of faith and reproaches those who do not believe:

How can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection from the dead, Christ has not risen either! But if Christ is not raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is also in vain. We, then, turn out to be false witnesses of God, because against God we testified that he raised Christ, while he did not raise him, if it is true that the dead do not rise again ... If then we only had hope in Christ in this life, we are to pity more than all men. And he adds the list of people who have seen the Risen Christ, hundreds of people, including himself last. In summary, the Gospels throughout the New Testament continually speak of eternal life.

In this regard, I remember the burning impression that left me the scene of my father, dead, put in a coffin as if it were a sack of potatoes: he who was an interesting person, with a living inner world, capable of deep affection . It was difficult to imagine that he was living anywhere else. Here faith intervenes: thanks to an authoritative witness, who speaks in the name of God, I can believe in things that I do not see and that seem improbable to me. My father was living elsewhere in a way that is unimaginable for me.

These considerations serve me to make the obstacles to believe wholeheartedly disappear from my mind, and then I understand what the communion of saints means and I am comfortable with the deceased people I love. I realize that praying makes sense and I, on my part, feel encouraged by them not to be a fool and to face life without fear. Without fear of life and without fear of death, said Saint Josemaría.

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