his birth and our deaths
"Now, Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace." —Luke 2:29
Simeon told the Lord, His Master, that he was ready to die now that he had seen Jesus alive. This points out the connection between our deaths and Jesus' birth. The Church emphasizes this connection by celebrating the deaths of Thomas Becket today, the Holy Innocents yesterday, and Stephen on the second day of Christmas.
Jesus' birth and our deaths go together because Jesus has revealed to us that our deaths are births into the eternal life of heaven. Death is not the end of life, but the end of earthly limitations on life. "Now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. My knowledge is imperfect now; then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Cor 13:12).
Death in Jesus is the birth into perfect life — a life greater than we can ever see, hear, or conceptualize (1 Cor 2:9). Our earthly life is comparable to being in the womb. In the womb, we are truly human beings; we can experience God (see Lk 1:41); we can know love, be nourished, and grow. However, when we are born, a whole new world opens up for us. Death is the birth by which we are transferred from the womb of earthly life to the light of heavenly life. We know this because we know Life itself, Jesus Christ, the Baby born at Bethlehem.
Prayer: Father, may I not abort myself by sin.
Promise: "The darkness is over and the real light begins to shine." —1 Jn 2:8
Praise: For love of God, St. Thomas endured exile, many trials, and ultimately death at the foot of the same altar at which he had offered Mass for years.
Reference: (For a related teaching, order our tape Am I Going to Heaven? on audio AV 54-3 or video B-54.)
Rescript: †Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 17, 2008
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