Death, where is your sting?

| Bishop Andrew Cozzens | May 4, 2017

Have you ever tried to put into one sentence the reason that you are a Christian? What do you believe and why do you believe it? Here is my attempt: I am a Christian because God’s own son has freed me from death.

Easter shows us that our faith is based on a historical fact: Jesus Christ died, but after three days, this dead man walked out of the tomb. And through the sacraments of his Church, he offers you and me the same gift.

I always say, bury my feet facing east, because I expect to stand up and greet the Risen Lord when he comes. Jesus Christ has conquered our greatest enemy, death. His love, the love of God, is stronger than death itself. As St. Paul pro claims to us so forcefully in this Easter season in 1 Corinthians, “O death where is your power? Death where is your sting?”

I am a Christian because Jesus Christ is the only hope to be freed from death.

If you think about it, most people — even us Christians — often live in the fear of death. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the depth of the pain of death. The pain fills those moments with an emptiness that it feels like nothing can repair, because nothing can bring the loved one back. We sometimes try to comfort ourselves with platitudes such as “she will live on in my heart” or “he made the world a better place,” but none of these brings them back.

Also, if we are honest with ourselves, we can admit that we spend much of our life seeking to insulate ourselves from our own death. We try to build up secure and comfortable environments. We hold tight to the good things of this life — people, places, things — all because we are afraid of the emptiness that fills our hearts without them. We are afraid of losing the good things of life; we are afraid of death.

All our striving is often a subtle attempt to placate those fears and live in the illusion that we are keeping death at bay; we have it all under control. However, deep down we know that at any moment we could lose it all. We know that everything in this world is fragile. And so, deep down, we live in fear of the fragile nature of this human life. This reality is what leads many of the atheistic philosophers in our world to say this world is ultimately meaningless, and all our striving after success and happiness is “vanity of vanities” (Eccl 1:2).

This is precisely what Jesus came to free us from. “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same nature, that through death he might destroy him who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong bondage” (Heb 2:14-15).

When we are afraid of death, we are slaves to things of this world and the prince of this world. When we fear death, we must strive to find all our success and fulfillment in this life. Jesus Christ came to free us from this slavery. He came to give us the freedom of the children of God, who believe that they will live forever.

When we live in the freedom of the children of God, we don’t need to control all the variables of this life. He controls them. There is true justice, there is true peace, there is true joy. It is a gift, which we receive when we accept that Jesus has conquered our death and set us free to live in his love forever. He sets us free to live not for ourselves, enslaved by the fear of death, but for him.

As St. Paul said, “He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor 5: 15). This is the freedom in which the saints lived. This is why they were able to give of themselves so joyfully. They didn’t have to live in fear, as Christ has conquered death. They were even free to make the ultimate sacrifice of martyrdom because they knew death had no power over them.

Life is not absurd, true joy is not fragile, death has lost its sting, and you can experience the freedom and joy of the children of God today, the more you accept and live in free gift of life in Jesus Christ.

Muerte, ¿dónde está tu punzada?

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Category: Only Jesus

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