Death becomes us. Or at least it does for those of us who have the fortitude and faith to die as friends of God. I assert that the Inspired Psalmist was being honest about the “Lord God of Truth,” when he said that God’s hands are a place into which we can commend our spirits. And living as if we believe in that will make us be men, husbands and fathers in the mold of Pope Benedict XVI.
And also there’s this from my 5-year old daughter, when asked about living like God loves us: Jesus loves people that are not in his town with loving heart. If you like that, or anything in here, go ahead and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or through email.
Communicating to live
The very fact that we can call ourselves a Catholic people is possible because we are a people of creeds. Specifically The Creeds: the Nicene and the Apostles’. The former builds on the latter, of course, but they both make it clear: to be Christian is to communicate with God in three Persons and to each other on Earth and in Heaven. Benedict expounds on this over and over in Behold the Pierced One. And it makes sense, as recently stated in Being a Father, Benedict XVI Style – Prayer: it is impossible to have close relationship with someone without talking to them about life and death, jokes and news, tea or coffee (the answer is tea…and let me tell you, I am drinking Taylor’s Scottish Breakfast and it is my new favorite. I get no kickbacks from Amazon. Can’t figure out how to set that up. So…yeah. Good stuff.).
Humans are communal by nature. There is no anthropologist worth the ink staining her fingertips that will tell you otherwise. We need it. Each and every aspect of us is a reflection of God – at least in that aspect’s uncorrupted state – and communication is the one most of us unwittingly come across each day. God un-needingly made us, in part, to communicate with us. That comes as a need for us to communicate with him and is seen in the ripples across the pool that is humanity’s collection of religion. We attempt to ride the waves on that pool to reach God, failing all-to-often to recognize that God has come into the pool Himself.
Speaking with, sharing meals with, walking with, and of course listening to Him who came to swim with us, Christ Jesus, that good man from Nazareth, that perfect man from the Second Ark, that Word Incarnate. He continued to speak with the Father right through every moment of His life and death.
Living for more than ourselves
As a popular meme says, dying for our families is the easy part. Who among us would not jump in front of a car if it meant saving our wife’s or child’s life? But making living, breathing choices that tax us, stretch us, and ultimately form us for our families – and even our enemies – is impossible. Just ask 10 of your friends if they would half of their lunch to the Work Fridge To-Go Box Thief. And then ask them why or why not.
How many said they wouldn’t because Work Fridge To-Go Box Thief doesn’t deserve it, or could plan better, or some other version of that. It is very difficult to on our own. But a friend might be able to convince us to do it. And a God who is Love, his Son who died of hate but died for Love and rose Love from the hateful grave, and the Love between that is so great that it is a Person, too give us the ability to do it. Only through them does anyone, anywhere, of any religion sacrificially love their enemy.
Love that flows so deeply that our enemies drink it in must flood our own families, for it threatens to drown us unless we cling to that same divine swimmer come down.
But he came for one reason. To die so that we might live.
Death as a means of living
CS Lewis, in The Great Divorce makes the point that to those in Hell, Earth was the closest they ever came to Heaven, and for those in Heaven, Earth is the closest they ever came to Hell. Death punches the ticket to both. We can either follow the example of Christ and die to ourselves here and live for God and others, or we can follow the example of the world and die to God. Remember, heroic fathers willingly sacrifice their time, bodies and dreams for their wives and children. Done with our feet on the Via Dolorosa, this cannot fail to populate Heaven.