Friday, January 20, 2012

Cheating Death

Dear Theophilus,

As the saying goes: There are only two things certain in life: death and taxes.

Reading Fr. Robert Barron’s Eucharist, I found the following quite interesting:

In a very real sense, death (and the fear of death) stand behind all sin, and hence Jesus had to journey into the realm of death and, through sacrifice, twist it back into life. (p. 83)

Recognizing death’s inevitability, how is it that sin is embedded in cheating death? What we need to understand is that Fr. Barron is not necessarily referring to the death of the physical body, but rather our fear of our existence being forgotten over the course of time. A person’s life is often said to be a sigh in comparison to eternity, reminding us of how small we are in God’s creation. What we seek is to turn that sigh into a cry that will resonate across generations.

What Fr. Barron writes really makes sense when coupled with his commentary on the woman at the well:

The well is emblematic of errant desire, her tendency to fill up her longing for God with the transient goods of creation: money, pleasure, power, honour. (p. 82)

The sin is not in having any one or combination of these transient goods of creation, the temptation to sin lies, rather, in how we obtain these goods and use them for the benefit of humanity. Do we obtain wealth, honour and power at the expense with others? Do we lie and cheat our way to the top? Once we get to the top of this earthly existence, do we use our influence for the betterment of the world or for our own pleasure?

We need to remember that many who have succumbed to these temptations and have achieved earthly greatness in their time have disappeared like a sigh in the wind, forgotten by eternity. When we look to the saints, however, they have cheated death and attained eternal life by renouncing sin and turning to a life of righteousness.

What Christ teaches us at the well, and through Fr. Barron’s reflection, is that by embracing a death to the transient goods of creation, we can find everlasting life in the Father.

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