Ghosts and goblins – and life after death – are all an attractive source of stories, novels, and films. For most people through the centuries, it has been an area of concern because it is so important a question – is their life after death?
We haven’t experienced it, and it seems to exceed the bounds of reason. But many important things exceed the bounds of reason; our parent’s love, for example, and the trust of children, and genuine friendship – to all of which we give great attention.
Now, as the end of the church year arrives in two weeks, it is natural for our thoughts to turn to life after death. The Judeo-Christian tradition has a lot to say about it – belief in a bodily resurrection after death is an ancient belief.
The stories in today’s liturgy present human situations which cry out to teach us the resurrection of the dead. Innocent suffering on behalf of truth, as depicted in the Maccabees, demands that the just God give a final rationale for human suffering. The human situation behind the Gospel story – that is, the attempt to have one’s name remembered and passed on to the future – recognises a basic human yearning to give life a sense of purpose.
Christian belief in immortality, is unique and special. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News of fulness of life in this age, and of resurrection in the age to come. For us death is a door, not a wall that ends growth and action, but a door into a room full of surprises.
Someone has compared death to standing on the seashore. A ship spreads her white her white sails to the morning breeze and it starts for the open sea. She fades on the horizon, and someone says, “she’s gone”. Just at that moment when someone says, “she’s gone”, other voices who are watching her coming on another shore happily shout, “here she comes”. Or to use another metaphor, what the caterpillar calls ‘the end’ the butterfly calls ‘the beginning’.
When in a moment we say the last line of the creed, “we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting”, we are asserting our belief that, in a way no one fully understands, at our resurrection our body joins with our spirit to continue our existence in eternal life. So, our body as well as our spirit is holy, and for both of them this life isn’t all there is.