Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter

(Acts 7:51-8:1a; John 3:31-36)

As we grow old, the inevitability of death becomes less of a truism and more a truth. We should begin to ask ourselves, “How do I wish to die?” To this end people have always written wills for the disposition of their belongings. These days many are also making “living wills” where they indicate what medical treatments they wish to have or avoid and who will make health decisions for them if they become incapacitated. We would do better if we plan a Christian death.

Some may think that a Christian death means to have a church burial and that planning it means to choose the Scripture readings and hymns to be used in the funeral mass. But the term “Christian death” or “Christian way of dying” has a deeper, more ancient meaning. Like Stephen in the reading from Acts today, we die a Christian death when we ask forgiveness for our enemies and entrust our souls to the Lord. These practices are truly “Christian,” of course, because they also imitate Jesus’ death in the Gospel according to Luke.

We can prepare for such a death by repeating the same prayers daily – asking forgiveness for those who knowingly or not harm us and putting our lives into the hands of God.