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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Death

The human being, says martin Heidegger, is "Sein-zum-Tode", "Being to death". The Prophet Isaiah expresses this truth in dramatic and poetic images reaching the most inner core of the human being, "All people are like grass, and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field" Isaiah 40:6. Saint Peter reiterates Isaiah's profound statement. For, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall," 1 Peter 1:24. All three authors state in categorical terms the caducity of the human being, the mortality that is congenital to him/her; the human being is born with death ingrained in his/her flesh, and death in conjunction with life grows in them silently, simultaneously, incessantly, and consistently. Heidegger doesn't fail to make clear that death is the radical end for all human projects and opportunities. If there is any positive note to death's presence, in the human existence, thinks Heidegger, then that is that, it ineluctably demonstrates that the human being has to live an "authentic" life in a short time span that is available to him/her.

The existential philosophy has strongly emphasized this idea of an "authentic", genuine life, meaning that one has to live true to his core. The human being has to make his/her own choices in life and not develop his/her existence according to other people's opinions, or society's ideas "en vogue"; the human beings have to be the architects of their life, even if that would entail mistakes. Holocaust survivor and world renown Jewish psychologist Viktor Frankl, has wonderfully built into some of these thoughts his logo therapy theory.

Throughout the whole Bible, Israel also shows a deep awareness of the radical "end" that inextricably accompanies the human being in time and mercilessly will swallow him or her one day; the human being "walks in the valley of the shadow of death" (PS 23:4). His or her destination is the "sheol" the place of dust, of inconsistent existence, that of the shadow. An authentic life for the Israelite is to live "in the fear of God" which is not to be in anyway equated with angst, terror, but it is "the beginning of wisdom" (Sirach 1:14). There is so much beauty in the poetical expressions created by the genius of Israel, under the inspiration of the holy spirit, in order to convey the idea of true, genuine, existence.

Where the evil person will be brutally "uprooted by the lord from the land of the living" (psalm 52:5) the one that lives a righteous life will be intensely and profusely blessed by god. "But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God; I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever. For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good." (psalm 52: 8-9) These verses of a superb, poetical splendor express the immense joy of the human being that finds him/herself at the source of life, at the ever abundant wellspring of life, which is god. One cannot fail to avoid the feeling that there is hope described here in an existence that transcends the confines of earthly life.

Christian realism also, in numerous forms and ways, points out the finitude of human life and the tragedy of death particularly in the drama of the cross where Jesus, the son of God, hangs and through the tomb where his lifeless body lies, symbol of the human being's inexorable destination. Of course, this is not the "end station"; For as Christ has risen and is alive, with God, the human beings will also share his point of arrival, eternal life with God, if the Christian lives an authentic life, according to the gospel's exigencies. St. Paul says it clearly "but Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." 1 Corinthians 15:20 and in Romans "Now if we are children, then we are heirs--heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory." Romans 8:17

When I was little, I often saw in the cemeteries, signposts with inscriptions like this: "sta, viator" or "stop, o traveler" and "once we were like you, one day you'll be like us too!" These were maxims that prompted one to take time to think about his or her mortality and warnings to live an "examined", a righteous life before the eyes of God.

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