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"O Death, Where is Thy Sting?"

O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (1 Cor 15:51)

(A Hard Look and Reflection on Life and Death - - 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time)

"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace. "But the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament, and those who lead the many to justice shall be like the stars forever." (Daniel 12:2-3)

The Stoics, ancient thinkers who adhered to a philosophy of life that deals with living a life of virtue, are known for their "Memento Mori" which is a reminder of man's mortality.

Even as a pagan philosophy, Stoicism contains elements of the Christian faith. The "Memento Mori" symbol shows the picture of a human skull flanked by a lotus flower symbolizing life and an hour glass symbolizing time.

A Stoic can look at the symbols and reflect on life and death and end there, while a Christian can continue and end with life.

"Someday your head will look like this, shorn of the flesh and hair. Your eyeballs will no longer be in the sockets. Your nose will no longer cover the hole where it once was. Your lips covering your teeth that you used to chew your food, or move to show a smile to greet another person will disappear.

Your brain that used to be the seat of your thinking power and the command center of your other bodily functions and that signals what is pleasurable and painful will decompose together and turn to a little pile of dust in your grave.

Your limbs that you used to work and play will become only bones lying still in your wooden casket in which your body has been lain. That too will rot though more slowly than your flesh.

If sometime after you're gone, your skeleton is exhumed for any reason, they could fit into a much smaller box like an ossuary of old.

At your funeral rites people will talk about good things they remember about you, but omit those not good to hear. And when your body is finally laid to rest, you will scarcely be remembered, except by people who loved you or whom you touched somehow in their lives in either good or bad ways.

Probably once a year some members of your family will visit and put flowers beside the stone marking where you lay and say a little prayer for your soul. The rest of the time your mortal remains' resting place will be eerily quiet and peaceful, interrupted only by the burial prayers and soft conversation of people sending off new arrivals that will be your neighbors.

But for a Christian there is something more than your body: your soul.

Saint Paul in his letter to the Corinthians compares the body to a tent, where the soul resides. We live and aim to please God in our bodies and we long to be with God.

Our Lord Jesus assures us that we have another dwelling prepared by Him for us, a dwelling where we will be in union with God forever. But that will only happen if we have believed in Him and followed Him in our lives, if we have had a personal relationship with Him.

While the soul will dwell there, by the grace and mercy of God, our bodies will stay where we are in our graves until He comes again at the end of time. Then He will wake us up from our sleep and join our bodies and souls and make us into glorified bodies that will adore God in His magnificent dwelling, where there will be no more suffering, and where He will wipe away the tears from our eyes.

And that is when death will be no more, only life everlasting!

Death has lost its sting. God is Love and His mercy is forever!

Lord Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner!#

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