God of the Living

Scripture Reflection for the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time (Year C)

October 31, 2016

I begin writing this reflection Halloween morning, a day with different meanings for different people, depending on your religious or spiritual tradition.  Ancient Celts believed on this day the veil between the living and the dead lifted and spirits of those who have died walked the earth.  Yesterday, the Hindu festival of Diwali took place, which celebrated the victory of light over darkness.  Christians mark October 31st as All Hallow’s Eve since November 1st will be All Saints Day, and the day following will be All Souls Day, two days our church remembers and celebrates those who have died before us in faith.  In Mexico, All Saints and All Souls take on a special significance in the form of Dia de los Muertos; Day of the Dead.  Each of these celebrations reaffirms for believers of diverse customs that death is not the end of the story.  Our Christian tradition teaches us that because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, the death of our physical bodies does not mark the end of the story for us.

Recently I spoke with a woman who talked about her morbid fear of death and she asked me if I was afraid of dying.  I do not spend a great deal of time thinking about my own death, but I had thought about this, so I replied “No, but I am afraid of dying without having given my best to living.”  I do not think she liked my response because she changed the subject of the conversation.  If our conversation had continued, I would have told her that while I do not fear death, I certainly fear dying painfully.  Even still, indulging myself in dark imaginings about how I will die is not particularly helpful, and today’s Gospel from Luke reminds us that our God is not a “God not of the dead, but of the living.”

November 1, 2016

I continue and finish writing this reflection on the afternoon of All Saints.  This morning in Amherst I attended the funeral of my father’s brother, my Uncle Alex.  As we gathered in the cemetery for the interment, I looked around at the generations of people whose lives he had touched.  Surely part of him will live on through them.  I see Alex’s siblings, his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren; all carrying with them a significant part of my uncle not only in their DNA but in their hearts. Like most people in the world, we believe those who have died before us remain with us in one form or another.

Steven Curtis Chapman sings of a “glorious unfolding” which reminds us that the best is yet to come.  Here is the refrain:

And this is going to be the glorious unfolding
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed
You’ve just got to believe the story is so far from over
So hold on to every promise God has made to us
And watch this glorious unfolding
[1]

Trevor Droesbeck
Office of Youth Faith Development for the Archdiocese of Moncton

[1] Glorious Unfolding, lyrics by Steven Curtis Chapman© 2013

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