18th April 2012

Our Eternal Destination

Many people enjoy visiting London. However no one was fooled by the sign on one of the bendy buses making its way through St Julians recently. It’s destination? Trafalgar Square. Quite obviously getting on that bus wouldn’t have got anyone there. But what if for a minute we imagine that I sincerely thought that the bus was going to stop by Nelson’s column. It still wouldn’t have got me beyond the War Memorial column in Floriana anyway. It is really a number 12. The truth about our destination and how we are to get there are vitally important.

This is the Good News of Easter. It addresses man’s most essential fear: death. There comes a time in life when one faces one’s mortality in a deeper way. Perhaps death in the family or of a close friend; or the recent news of the young 25 year old Italian footballer who collapsed and then died on the playing field or the 100 years anniversary of the Titanic; or we ourselves get very sick. It won’t go away. We can postpone death and we can ignore it but we cannot avoid it.

So Jesus shows us that death is no longer an enemy for those who believe in Him because of His own death and resurrection. Just as a little child comes out of the dark womb and beholds the mother who bore him or her for 9 months, face to face, so death is the canal we pass through to enter into the fulness of the gift of eternal life that Jesus has given us in baptism. This doesn’t mean that our natural repugnance to the physical death of our body will disappear overnight. It means that we are to remind ourselves that Jesus has conquered spiritual death (eternal separation from God) so that our physical death becomes but a passageway to heaven where we will see God face to face and He ‘will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain’ Rev 21:4.

But we need to remember also that the road to life is narrow. We need to make sure not only that we on the right ‘bus’ and not taken in by ‘every wind of teaching’ (Eph 4:14) but that we remain firmly put. Sincerity is no guarantee that we are in the right place. One can be sincere but still sincerely wrong. In the midst of the competition of voices within and outside us we need to stop, pray and listen to the One who tells us what He told Pilate:

I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” John 18:37

It is really a matter of life and death! Jesus wants nothing more than to bring us into eternal joy with Him. He is committed to our salvation. If we haven’t yet found Him we need to seek Him. If we have found Him we need to deepen our relationship with Him and to persevere. He has given us all that we need to do so.
The way we live our lives here on earth matters a lot.

As St Augustine says:

If we spend so much effort, so much care, and do so much in order to live a little longer, what ought we do when it is a matter of living forever? If we consider prudent those who do all they can to put death off and to obtain a few more days, how senseless are those who live in such a way that they forfeit the day that is eternal (De Verbo Domini,Sermon 64)