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 - "Is death the end of everything? Today's readings tell us "NO!"

2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14 - The seven young men, inspired by the hope of eternal life, preferred martyrdom than to deny their faith. For them, death was the not the end.

2 Thessalonians 2:16,3-5 - Paul assures the recent converts that, through their faith in Christ, they are able to handle all situations, no matter how difficult, and this includes facing death.

Luke 20:27-38 - In answer to objections made to him by representatives of the Saducees, a leading Jewish group who did not believe in life after death, Christ declares, categorically, belief in the resurrection of the dead. He explains that conditions of life in union with God cannot be equated with life as we presently experience it. Now individuals seek to complement each other; then, all will find fulfilment through permanent union with the source of life.

Point 1: In the second 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 gather 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 good and noble drawing on the belief in the resurrection on the last day for its inspiration.

Point 2: One of the few times we read of Jesus weeping 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 "Lord! If you had been here, my brother would not have died"! Jesus looked at her and compassion filled his eyes -"Martha! Your brother will rise again"! Drawing upon her understanding of the Jewish teaching on the resurrection, Martha replied -"I know that he will rise on the last day"! Jesus then replied "Martha! 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 -"Yes, 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 - "I 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 - "the sadness of death gives way to the bright promise of immortality". It is this same faith expressed in the words of an anonymous Indian mystic 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 that they themselves also accept-- that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. [Acts 24:15]