Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword €“ Death
Traditionally, November is the month in which the Church€™s liturgy focuses our minds on the subject of death. The big question €“ €œIs death the end of everything?  The readings tell us €œNo€!

Readings from Masses for the Dead, Lectionary, vol. 3, p. 849-890)

Point 1:  In the 2nd Book of Maccabees of the Old Testament, we read of how the Jewish military leader, Judas, after a hard battle in which many of his soldiers fell, ordered that their bodies should be gathered so that they could be buried with their families. He then ordered that a collection should be made and sent to Jerusalem so that an expiatory sacrifice may be offered for their souls.  This action was described as being good and noble drawing on the belief in the resurrection on the last day for its inspiration.  It also marks the first instance of praying for the dead in the Judaic tradition.

Point 2: One of the few times we read of Jesus weeping was  when he wept for the fate of Jerusalem; another was on the occasion of his friend Lazarus€™ death.  Martha, Lazarus€™ sister came to meet Jesus as he drew near the family home and said to Him €“€œLord! If you had been here, my brother would not have died€!  Jesus looked at her, and compassion filled His eyes €“€œMartha! Your brother will rise again€!  Drawing on he understanding of the Jewish teaching on the resurrection, Martha replied €“€œI know that he will rise on the last day€!  Jesus then replied: €œMartha, Try to understand! I am not talking of the last day! I am the resurrection and the life!  Whoever believes in me even though he die, will live! And whoever lives and believes in me will not die in eternity!  Do you believe this€?

Conclusion: As Christians, this is the challenge we all face when we are confronted with death. Do we really believe?  And taking our lead from Martha, we reply €“€œYes Lord! I believe that You are the Christ, Son of God, who is to come into the world€!

This same Faith inspired St. Paul to write to his early Christian converts €“€œI want you to be certain of this so that you do not grieve as those who have no hope€.  It is this same sense of Hope that finds expression in the church€™s liturgy for the dead €“€œthe sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality€.  It is this same faith expressed in the words of an anonymous, non Christian Indian mystic and poet writing on the subject of death: Death is not extinguishing the light; it is simply putting out the lamp because the dawn has come€.

Scriptural reference:  I have a hope in God €“ a hope they themselves also accept €“that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous€ (Acts 24:15)