Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle B

The first of the series of ‘Last things” that will be addressed is death.  This topic can make some people uncomfortable, since we may have experienced the loss of a loved one, or may be facing the possibility of our own death.  The Second Vatican Council confirmed the age old teaching that “As a consequence of original sin, man must suffer “bodily death, from which man would have been immune had he not sinned” (GS § 18).”

The first thing to keep in mind carefully is that a human being is a unity of body and soul.  Bodily death, by definition, is the separation of the body and the soul.  Since the human soul is immortal, it cannot die.  It will be reunited with the body on the day of resurrection of the dead (Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC #1005).  

Christ Conquers the Evil of Death by Pope John Paul II

It is the same when we deal with death. It is often awaited even as a liberation from the suffering of this life. At the same time, it is not possible to ignore the fact that it constitutes as it were a definitive summing-up of the destructive work both in the bodily organism and in the psyche. But death primarily involves the dissolution of the entire psychophysical personality of man. The soul survives and subsists separated from the body, while the body is subjected to gradual decomposition according to the words of the Lord God, pronounced after the sin committed by man at the beginning of his earthly history: “You are dust and to dust you shall return.” Therefore, even if death is not a form of suffering in the temporal sense of the word, even if in a certain way it is beyond all forms of suffering, at the same time the evil which the human being experiences in death has a definitive and total character. By His salvific work, the only-begotten Son liberates man from sin and death. First of all He blots out from human history the dominion of sin, which took root under the influence of the evil spirit beginning with original sin, and then He gives man the possibility of living in sanctifying grace. In the wake of His victory over sin, He also takes away the dominion of death, by His resurrection beginning the process of the future resurrection of the body. Both are essential conditions of “eternal life,” that is, of man’s definitive happiness in union with God; this means, for the saved, that in the eschatological perspective suffering is totally blotted out.

The Church encourages us to prepare ourselves for the hour of our death. In the ancient litany of the saints, for instance, she has us pray: “From a sudden and unforeseen death, deliver us, O Lord”; to ask the Mother of God to intercede for us “at the hour of our death” in the Hail Mary; and to entrust ourselves to St. Joseph, the patron of a happy death. Every action of yours, every thought, should be those of one who expects to die before the day is out. Death would have no great terrors for you if you had a quiet conscience. . . . Then why not keep clear of sin instead of running away from death? If you aren’t fit to face death today, it’s very unlikely you will be tomorrow. . . .


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