Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today's first reading is from the Book of Wisdom. The passage is tremendously important, addressing some of our deepest questions: “Why does Death exist?” or “Did God make death?” The Book of Wisdom says that God did not create death, nor is He happy about it. All that He created was meant to be wholesome, not containing destructive forces[1].

Why then does death exist? Well, there are two very wrong yet opposite opinions that people expound on regarding death. The first is the offensive saying you have heard, “Stuff happens”[2], the Book of Wisdom tells us that we do have control over our fate: if we follow God we will be raised up by Him. If we turn from Him, we turn to death.

The opposite and perhaps most prevalent incorrect opinion on why death exists is pietistic. A wife, husband or child dies. Well meaning people and even priest will say, "It was God's will." or "He needed another angel in heaven." This is obviously wrong. God does not will death. And He doesn't need any more angels in heaven. He needs them here on earth. God does not require either human immolation or child sacrifice. We've got to get the concept, "It was God's will" out of our vocabulary when dealing with death. Remember the Book of Wisdom, God did not make death and does not delight in the death of the living.

God did not create death: Man was made for incorruption, the book of Wisdom says. God made us in His own image. That is an image of Life. Those who choose evil have brought death into the world.

Still, life is far more than physical. We believe in the eternal life of the Spirit. We believe that God will raise up all who do his will. The righteous will live forever. Only those who belong to the party of the devil will experience death.

So then, how do we understand death? Well, death is due to the decision for evil we all suffer from. To fight death we have to choose life. At the same time, we recognize that eventually we will all die, but if we have worked for what is good and right, our death will only be physical. We shall live forever with God. And this is a big consolation.

Death doesn't just happen. Nor is it God's will. It is the effect of evil in the world brought about by the ability to choose. God does not want anyone to die, but He does want us to be able to choose life, and to be able to choose love, even if this means that we can also choose hatred and death.

Today we pray for faith in times of crises, when the ultimate effect of evil in the world, death, knocks on the door of our homes.

We pray for the faith that God who grieves with us will raise up those of us who haven chosen Him ■

[1] Sunday 28th June, 2009, 13th Sunday Ordinary Time. Readings: Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24. I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me—Ps 29(30):2, 4-6, 11-13. 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15. Mark 5:21-43 [St Irenaeus].
[2] OK, usually the saying uses another word that begins with S, but we are in the celebration of the mass, a sacred time and a sacred space.
Ilustration: Mark Chagall, La Création de l’homme, Musée national Message biblique (Nice).

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris