The poet Emily Dickinson wrote:
“Because I could not stop for death,
he kindly stopped for me;
the carriage held but just ourselves
How wise of our Church to spend this month of November reflecting on end times, our own death, and prayerfully remembering our beloved dead. Since Adam and Eve, death has been around, yet it never ceases to surprise us. Even when death is expected, its finality still comes as a jolt to loved ones left behind.
Today’s reading from the Book of Wisdom challenges us to reflect on the attitude, belief, and perspective we should have about death.
- When our culture promotes that: life ends with death, so fear it, avoid it, deny it,
Wisdom says: God formed us to be imperishable, the image of his own nature he made us.
- When our culture asks: what good is suffering, especially as death nears?
Wisdom replies: They shall be greatly blessed because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.
- When our culture neglects and ignores those who are poor and short-changed by life,
Wisdom responds: “As gold in the furnace, he proved them…In the time of their visitation, they shall shine and shall dart about as sparks through stubble.”
It’s natural to fear death and normal to have anxiety about the unknown. But these fears don’t have to overwhelm us or rob us of hope. The words of the Wisdom reading are compelling and challenge us to choose a resurrection attitude, that is, that death is overcome by Christ.
May we take time to seriously reflect on our own death and how we’re preparing for it. Being in right relationship with God and others is ultimately all that matters.
And when death comes to us or our loved ones, how comforting are the final lines of our Wisdom reading:
“Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
Because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect.”