Tue | Jun 27, 2017

Diary of the ghetto priest | Death: the doorway to eternity

Published:Friday | May 19, 2017 | 5:00 AMFather Richard Ho Lung
Ho Lung

Will we rise to Heaven?

Yes, we will! How do we know that is so? We have put on Christ. We have lived by His word. We have done His deeds. We believe in Him. We have done our best to obey His every word and command.

We have been weak. We have been compromising. We have sinned. But in the case of King David, St Paul, Mary Magdalene, and all the disciples - there was murder, adultery, lack of truth, cowardice, jealousy, envy, etc. But if we live in Him and die with Him, we will rise with Him and be given eternal life.

For us Christians, death is just a doorway into eternity. Our flesh is just a cloak we slip off, leaving the immortal soul to rise up within the resurrected Christ into God's heavenly home.

How can we believe all this? It is by faith that we believe. Without faith, all is lost. We will not believe that Christ is really God, we will not believe He suffered, died, then rose from the dead. We will not believe in eternal life if we do not have faith.

 

ALL IN VAIN

 

Think of it, if there is no resurrection from the dead, all is in vain! All our struggles to overcome the temptations of the flesh, all our sacrifices to serve our families, all the acts of charity and kindness to the poor would make no sense. In which case, we should all eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we will die! In other words, we would live a selfish life.

Think of it! We yearn and long for God. We experience emptiness without Him. What is it but the soul that wants to meet eternity, and the eternal God, the one, true God. And nothing here on earth can satisfy us, but the one true Man-God, Jesus Christ! The body as it is, only exists for a while, but it is ever so corruptible, and its appetites cannot be satisfied. On the other hand, sin - though we often fall - is purely momentary. Knowing this, we keep following what lasts - the eternal, everlasting, desire for God. Thus St Augustine tells us "Our hearts are restless until it rests with You".

I know that I long for God. And the longer I live, the more I long for God. This, for all its beauty, cannot satisfy. St Paul understands this, and it is why he put philosophy aside - theology is needed. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised, and if Christ has not been raised, I will not be raised, and all of us will not rise from the dead.

A spiritual body ... what a mystery!

With faith, we believe that we will be raised from the dead in a different body, the body of Christ. This is not a matter we can understand rationally, but only by our faith in Jesus Christ. Somehow, this corruptible body; corruptible by sin, sickness and death, will go. Then when the last enemy - death - comes, this last enemy will be destroyed, for all things are subjected to Him. All of us will conquer death because He is the Christ, the First Fruit, and the first among the brethren who conquered death, rose from the dead, and lifted us His brethren by His power into His heavenly home.

What will our bodies be like at the time of the resurrection? We spent so much time on our bodies - to be physically beautiful, youthful, strong, healthy. But all that will be gone! Look at the tortured and torn body of Jesus crucified. Look at our physical corruption when we have been buried for a few days. St Paul says, "What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown as a physical body, it is raised in a spiritual body."

What a hope! We will live in a spiritual body! What this is, is a mystery!

Hope, that is what we need. Our faith brings us hope that there is something much greater than the pleasures of this passing world awaiting us. That is, living in Heaven, where there are many mansions, living with the Father, being with the Son, being with them, dining with them.

In Heaven, there will also be angels and saints. I truly believe this. I live on Earth for this, struggling as all of us do to overcome my lower nature, painfully enduring and seeking to overcome my weaknesses, longing for God day and night, and joyfully finding my way through this valley of tears.

Easter! Wow! What would we do without it? What would I do without it? And, it is given to us day by day by the good Lord Jesus Christ. We must increase our work for the Lord, knowing that our labour is not in vain.