From death to a new eternal life
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
WE should never be afraid of death. Though it obviously is not something good, since ultimately it is a consequence of sin, death somehow has become a gateway to our new, eternal life with God, a life of bliss and complete identification with God who wants us to be his image and likeness, children of his, sharers of his nature and life.
This is made possible because death has been redeemed by Christ with his own death and resurrection. Its sting has been removed. Its victory and dominion over us has been crushed. It has been converted as the final means for us to gain the definitive life meant for us. In short, with Christ and with him only, we can transit from death to our new life.
We should not worry if as we approach the end of our earthly life, there will still be many things to be done, problems to be solved, challenges to be tackled. We are not expected to do and solve all of them. We will always die with some unfinished businesses still hanging.
But Christ will take care of all that. What is impossible with us is always possible with him. He has shown this by accepting all the sins of man with his passion and death on the cross, and conquering sin and death itself with his resurrection.
We can say that Christ was not able to solve all the human problems that we have. What he did in the end was simply to assume all these problems, including our sins, by offering his life on the cross as payment or ransom, then he conquered sin and death with his resurrection.
In other words, our redemption or the completion of our creation as image and likeness of God is first of all a fruit of divine power and not of our own effort, though we are expected to do what we can to cooperate.
We know that our cooperation can only go so far. But at least, as long as our cooperation is done with faith, trust and love for God, then God’s divine power can work wonders in us. He can transform us into his image and likeness.
This truth is somehow affirmed when St. Paul said in his first letter to the Corinthians: “When all things are under his (Christ’s) authority, the Son (Christ) will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere.” (15,28)
Another translation of that passage expresses it more vividly: “…the Son himself will be made subject to him who put all things under him, so that God may be all in all.”
So what we have to understand is that while we do what we can and we do them as best as we can, we should not worry so much if our best efforts cannot solve all our problems due to our sins. It can only prove that the damage due to our sin, which is an offense not only against ourselves but first of all is against God, is beyond our nature to repair. It can only be repaired by God himself with our cooperation.
That is why we can consider ourselves as our own co-redeemer, with Christ understood as the sole redeemer. Our role as co-redeemer does not compromise in any way the truth that Christ is the sole redeemer of mankind. But Christ somehow involves us in the work of redemption precisely because we are supposed to be like him who is the pattern of our humanity.
We have to see to it that whatever situation we may be in, especially when we have problems, we should identify ourselves with Christ, because it is only through him that everything is resolved. Even our death, our biggest unsolvable problem, will be solved!