“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me” (Jn.14.1)
During His public ministry, Jesus had foretold the disciples about His Passion, Death and Resurrection. When “Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart from this world and to go to the Father” (Jn. 13.1), He was moved in spirit with much concern for his disciples and He comforted them by telling them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me”. He assures them that He will come back to take them to Himself. “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places….If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.” (Jn. 14.2, 3).
“Anxiety weighs down the human heart” (Prov. 12, 25). So our loving Lord does not want us to be worried or anxious about anything. (cfr. Phil.4.6). When the disciples confronted the stormy sea they were frightened, but the Lord challenged them not to fear, but to believe in Him. He is always with us, in all our life situations, to comfort us and to strengthen us.
Many people are afraid of death. Death is something we all must face. No amount of medical and technological improvement, diet control or meditation techniques can avoid death. Fear of death is mainly because we are uncertain of our life after death. Mankind is created to have eternal life with God. Death is only a gateway for that eternal life. But at the same time we should know that God has created us with freedom of choice. He does not want us to be puppets in His hands. He loves us and respects our freedom. If, in my earthly life, I choose to love God and live His Word, I am guaranteed of my eternal life with Him. When we live in good relationship with the living God, we can joyfully and peacefully accept death, because we are going to see Him face to face, whom we loved in this life. “Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be, has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is” (1 Jn. 3.2). Like St. Paul, let us desire to be united with the Lord in life and in death. “For me living is Christ and dying is gain” (Phil. 1.21) . St. Padre Pio used to pray every day after receiving Holy Communion: “Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You”.
For a Christian, there is no room for fear or anxiety about death. Jesus has promised His peace to us. All that we need to do is to put our trust in Jesus and in His promises. God is with us even when we are facing death. Death is not the end but the beginning of a victorious life with God. As John Milton writes: “Death is the golden key that opens the palace of eternity for those who put their trust in Christ”. Let us pray for those who have a fear of death that they may heed to the Lord’s loving invitation to put their trust in Him. Through the beautiful celebration of Paschal Mysteries year after year, we go deep in our conviction that ‘our life is hidden with Christ in God, and hence we need to set our minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth’(cfr.Col.3.2).
For those who are attached to the things of this world, engrossed so much with the ‘worldly affairs’ , the reality of death can be a ‘nightmare’! Forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, let us press on towards the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil.3.13). “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor.2.9).
Nowadays many people panic about the end of the world. Should the thought about the end of the world take away our peace? Jesus has given us the warning messages about the end of the world; it is for us not to get anxious or worried, but to prepare ourselves and lead our lives in an adequate way so that to meet the Lord when ‘the end’ comes, whether ‘the end’ be at the time of my death or at the end of the world. (See also the articles on ‘the Signs of the End of the Age’ and ‘The Last Judgement’ in our web page ‘Gospel’).
Since this life is passing away, as ‘our citizenship is in heaven’ (Phil.3.20), let us be only preoccupied with fulfilling our duty. “Fear God and keep His commandments: for that is the whole duty of everyone” (Eccl.12.13). Live each day enjoying the friendship and favour of the Lord. Thus our joyful and peaceful lives (even when the ‘warning signs of the end of the world’ is taking place around us), be a testimony for others. “We wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath that is coming. (1 Thess.1.10).
“The righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord. Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid” (Ps. 111.6-8). Yes, there is great reward for those who love the Lord and who walk in His ways. Let us not be anxious about the future, for our future is safe in the hands of the Lord. We only need to ‘trust in the Lord, and do good; so we will live in the land, and enjoy security.’ (Ps.37.3).
In my early youth God led me to make the decision to decide for the vocation of single life to work for His Kingdom with ‘unhindered devotion to the Lord’ (cfr 1.Cor. 7.35). Many of my relatives and friends were ‘anxious’ about my future. I remember one Religious Sister telling me: “You may think Single life is good; now you are young, healthy and have a job. But when you become old or sick you will find it difficult. If you become a Religious Sister, there will be other Sisters in the community to help you. Or if you get married your husband or children will be at your help. To lead a Single life will be a risk in the long run”.
The good Holy Spirit in me, immediately reminded me of one verse and I responded to the Sister in the words of the Psalmist; The Lord in whom I have put my trust right from my childhood “will not cast me off in the time of old age; He will not forsake me when my strength is spent” (Ps.71.9). I said this about 30 years back and now I have become old and fallen sick at times, but the Lord has been so faithful to His promise all throughout my life. The more we put our trust in the Lord and claim His promises, the more blessed our lives will become.
“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name, give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness” (Ps.115.1)