To Albert Camus and King Solomon of old:
A man is born in a cage of flesh and bones and passions, sentenced there for life. Some also add bars of feared gold, or of steel all around him. Neither war, nor victory, Nor joy, nor even death, which is a total loss of earthly health and wealth, can free that man completely. A man can only become completely free, when he is born to God’s wildly infinite love. Joseph Torie
‘…nor even death, which is a total loss of earthly health and wealth, can free a man completely.’
One reason why death is so feared by many, ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ alike, is because it is the precise moment we separate from every single material possession we may have had, including our body’s life, which we have had received at birth.
But for many old people who have been suffering the slow degradation of health and the shrinking of the physical capabilities, it shouldn’t be such a feared thing. However still it is, not only because of the uncertainty many have about the post-mortem conditions they may have to face, but especially, because dying is the undeniable seal of the futility of a life lived to accumulate material things and wealth, whether we have succeeded at it or not. Those are absolutely meaningless in the next world, unless they have been used just to support one’s own earthly life and that of as many other people and creatures as possible. “’Look at the birds in the sky’, He said, ‘they don’t plant, they don’t harvest, they don’t keep in barns, but your Father feeds them. Aren’t you of much more value than many birds’ Jesus said to those that have followed him”
The total loss of earthy possessions, and which is more, the total loss of the value and meaning of material wealth is an unbearable thought and experience for those that have dedicated most of the efforts in their earthly life to accumulate such things. In a way, the most material wealth accumulated by whatever means, the harder is the rendezvous with the departure of one’s physical earthly possessions. The instant loss of value and usefulness of material things and worldly accomplishments is the greatest shock to those that have been working hard through their lives to retain the flimsy riches. It is greater than the loss experienced after the greatest stock market crash imaginable. Death is the checkmate life plays on those that spent their lives trying to accumulate material wealth as synonym or source of eternal security, while neglecting to love and live.
For those that haven’t spent their lives on the pursue of fleeting material possessions but have used them to support their bodies and existence while doing more meaningful things, such as the ones that used their lives and whatever wealth they had to be helpful to others, and for those that haven’t placed such premium or paid such high prices to hang on to material possessions is not such a heavy loss, although they may still be afraid of dying.
For those that trust in God’s unending love and those that have placed their riches not on this world, but on the world of love and truth, the end of earthly life is a promotion to the true life, away from the clutches of pain, sorrow, loneliness, and all the inconveniences that earthly life is attached to.
To a great extent and for most people the fear of death ends when they die. It is over, it is not that bad, it is not ‘physically’ painful anymore, and in fact it is better than the life lived in the material world. But death for many could be the beginning of their personal battle with their regret of being totally unprepared for the occasion and for the new dimension in their lives. It is a personal battle, because even in spite of the tremendous support offered after death to all, the regret for all the ‘loving’ things not done, and the time and energy wasted in accumulating worthless things, could be in some ways unbearable.
At that point one can only accept the mercy offered to leave the loss behind and learn the lesson.
Unlike what many would wish, there is no opportunity to be born again in the material world to try again. The chance is gone and the bitter lesson is already learned, the painful way.
Unlike many would wish there is no way to benefit of those material things left behind, not any more than trying to get some benefit from their dead and decaying earthly bodies left behind, which then would proceed to get reunited to the dust from which they were formed.
Unlike many would wish, death is not the total loss of consciousness and disappearing into nothingness.
Death is in fact, the meeting with the realities of life, face to face. For those who tried to love others and to love God, who gave the life, death is the greatest victory in life, the graduation ceremony that opens the door to a much brighter, more loving, more meaningful experience than earthly life could have ever offered; yes, even in spite of the many joys and pleasures that love could have brought to one’s earthly life.
For those that through love invested in the next life, death is a pleasure, even if for some reason they would have feared to die, before it happened.
Death leaves our earthly possessions in a similar predicament as a burned car, without the possibility of even recycling some of the parts.
Only what’ s done in love for God and others pays any dividends after death, for those who die. Everything else, turns to ashes. ‘Vanity of vanity, all is vanity’… except that is, for what’s done in love; which the writer of that famous sentence seemed to have ignored, or sadly missed the point of.
An old song says, ‘…Sweet relief from all pain / will be waiting me there / when I get to the end of life’s road’.
Jesus told a rich young man, “If you would be perfect… sell all that you have; give to the poor, and follow Me, and you will have treasure in Heaven”. The man Jesus was talking with didn’t follow his advice, at least not at that time. However, just a few years later, how many? Twenty? Thirty? Fifty? … that man had to leave all those things anyway. Did he get any treasure when he got to the other side? Surely not any of the treasures he could have gotten by trading those earthy possessions for treasures in heaven, if he never did it. He would have received though any rewards for any love he would have shown to others, or rewards for sharing what he ‘had’ with others in need. But otherwise, he would have received only the relief or not having to worry anymore, finally, about earthly possessions and about the future… through God’s mercy.
I am not really looking forward to having material riches or possessions in heaven, nor to be any kind of important person or king or wealthy landowner. All I want is to be with Jesus, and to get to hang around with him, at least most of the time of eternity, if not always. I mean, I couldn’t have him all to myself, after all, who am I, even to be there?
What could I worry about if I am with him? Would I worry whether I would have enough to eat, or a place to sleep? Or about whether there would be enough fruit and wine in heaven? Would I worry about whether I can afford a cup of coffee or a good meal? Or about not being loved? Or about not having enough of it? I will be in Jesus’ house, the King of Kings, where even the lowest servant or the lowest doorkeeper, is in a much better position than the greatest king on this earth. No worries, mate! I am going to heaven!
A man can only become completely free, when he is born to God’s wildly infinite love.