October 21, 2014

How It Benefits A Christian To Face Death

By Archimandrite Demetrios Politakis

The Gospel passage that refers to the miraculous resurrection of the only begotten son of the widow by Jesus gives us the opportunity to stand before the sudden visitor called "death", and to see how Christians benefit from facing death and how we should stand against it as conscious members of the Church.

Man in every era feared and fears death, because it always caused him fear and disgust, and this is reasonable since death is foreign to the natural state of man, because man was fashioned for immortality, which is a gift of God for the living soul.

Unfortunately it was man himself who opened the door for death to enter, by his apostasy and sin, by his pride and disobedience, and these resulted in pain, sadness, emptiness and despair.

But here, my beloved friends, there is meaning and a miracle. While death for man is an appalling and frightening event, the Church sees it as an inevitable moment of life that leads us from mortality to immortality, from corruption to incorruption.

This is why we are not so much preoccupied with death as we are with the loss of the soul, so we have to live our lives as a preparation, for through it we have the prospect of eternity.

This present life is an inn which man lives in for a few days. As luxurious as this inn may be, and as many amenities as it may provide, man still hopes to return home, although it may be humble, poor and plain.

A certain theologian, Metropolitan Kallistos Ware of Diokleia, says: "In consequence of the fall, men and women also became subject to the separation of soul and body in physical death. Yet physical death should be seen, not primarily as a punishment, but as a means of release provided by a loving God. In his mercy God did not wish men to go on living indefinitely in a fallen world, caught forever in the vicious circle of their own devising; and so he provided a way of escape. For death is not the end of life but the beginning of its renewal. We look, beyond physical death, to the future reunion of body and soul at the general resurrection on the Last Day."

From the above we understand that God treats us with absolute love and allows death to come in our lives, not as a punishment but as a way of destination in the other life, a return to the Kingdom of God, the highest life.

Beloved friends, it is an undeniable fact that for everyone there will come a day and time of personal judgment before God the just Judge. So let us not allow fear and terror to develop within us over our imminent death and let us not despair when the Lord calls us to be near his beloved friends.

What will benefit us is if we utilize the time in our lives so that at the moment of our departure from this temporary life we will hear the Divine call: "Well done, good and faithful servant. You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord!"

Archimandrite Demetrios Politakis is Director of the Radio Station of the Sacred Archdiocese of Crete and Parish Priest of the Sacred Church of the Honorable Cross in Estavromenou of Heraklion.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.