PREPARE FOR THE KINGDOM

In this life there are many things to prepare for, but the most important is for our entrance into the kingdom of heaven. I will take you with me, should you want to come along, on my personal journey to the door which will lead to eternity, through which every soul must pass. Where the angel of death waits to ask the all important question, "Are you prepared for the Kingdom?"

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Location: Anacortes, Washington, United States

Two years ago I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I was one of the fortunate ones who survived surgery along with chemo/radiation treatments. Recently, it was discovered that the cancer had returned and although I am again on chemotherapy, in all probability I have perhaps one more year to live. During these last months I would like to share what I have learned about the most important thing we'll ever do in this life and that is, prepare for the kingdom of God.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Do We Really Believe?

I went to a funeral Mass yesterday for the brother of one of the nuns in the Parish who died unexpectedly last week. I was a little apprehensive about going, for obvious reasons, but mostly because I hadn’t been to a funeral Mass since last February when my uncle died unexpectedly.

It seems there have been lots of unexpected deaths recently, or could it be that I’m just perceiving them as such. Certainly they are unexpected to those that are suddenly faced with the loss of their loved one. But I suppose that death shouldn’t be unexpected, but expected. It’s the timing that takes us by surprise.

My father died 25 years ago at the age of 68, quite unexpectedly. He had a massive heart attack that didn’t kill him immediately, but did enough damage that the rest of his body could not function. When I was called to come to the hospital, I somehow knew he would not survive. I perceived it in my spirit and simply watched as the doctors tried to revive him and finally had to let nature take its course. It was his time to go. The Lord had other plans for him.

Over the last 25 years I’ve visited his grave only three times. He is buried in Southern California. On all of those visits I had the same thought. He is not here. Why are you standing here looking at the ground? There was just this feeling of emptiness. He was not there. Funny, but it just now occurred to me that the myrrh bearing women received the same message from the angel sitting at the empty tomb of the Lord! What a message that was and still is!

As I sat at the funeral Mass yesterday, I had the same thought. This man is not here. He has passed into the next life. I don’t know exactly where he is, but he is not here. Logically, this is an obvious statement. But what is the real message here?

Fr. Abbot has said that a funeral service is an opportunity for those who are present to look at the reality of death and to seriously reflect on it. I believe he is right. Look at that casket and realize, that will be me someday. My body will be taken away and placed in the grave. The question to ask ourselves is, “Where will my soul be?”

We know what Jesus Himself has said about death and the afterlife. Just before raising Lazarus from the dead He said to his sister Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me though he die, yet shall he live.” John 11:25

So what is it that we believe? Do we believe that our soul will never die? And if so, then where will it go after death of the body? If Christ Himself has made it clear to us that believing in Him is necessary to have life after death, then maybe we need to answer these questions. How do we perceive death? Do we believe in personal accountability before God? Do we believe in Christ? Can we answer as Martha did when the Lord asked her “Do you believe this?” Can we say, “Yes Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.” John 11:27

If we can answer the Lord in this way, then we have His promise of eternal life.
And His promises are true.

I will leave you with a final thought taken from a homily by St. Nikolai Velimirovic where he calls us to honest confrontation of our love for God.

“When shall I come and appear before God? Here is the irresistible yearning of true love for God. Shame on all who say that they believe in God, and love God, while the very thought of death – of leaving this world – drives them wild with fear.”

O Lord our God, holy, mighty and living – the Source of holiness, the Source of strength, the Source of life – illumine us and warm us with love for Thee.


Prologue of Ochrid

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen.

What a beautiful post.

I, too, have long felt that our loved ones are not here in these caskets, not here in this earth marked with their names, but have truly gone on. At my mom's eulogy, I said this day was the most magnificent in all her life. I wasn't speaking from any theology, just basic faith. Freed of the clay, now, and thus much closer to Him, if not already in heart-to-Heart contact. How can some live while ever moving toward bodily death, without the faith of rising in His gift of resurrection, I wonder?

7:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Laura,

Wonderful post.

The prayer at the end was wonderful.

In some sense, when we believe, we possess eternal life -- this side of the veil. It's a quality of life that brings forth the good fruit of the Spirit. It bubbles up into a life-giving stream that waters all those around us. This stream will lead us home when death closes our eyes.

Thanks for the perspective.

Peace,

Alan

9:28 AM  
Blogger Abbot Joseph said...

"She is not dead, but sleeping... 'Child, arise!'" (Lk 8:52-54)

"Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Rev. 2:10c)

"Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)

9:44 AM  
Blogger Gabrielle said...

I think the more a soul comes into union with the Lord, the more it longs to be with Him, and the thought of death does not really cause fear anymore.

I too do not visit the grave of my parents very often, for precisely the reason you gave, Laura. I do not feel their presence there at all; memories of them live in my heart, and their souls live with the Lord.

9:56 AM  

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