Tuesday of the Seventh Week of Easter
(Acts 20:17-27; John 17:1-11a)
In a lay minister formation class recently a student asked, “What does ‘euthanasia’ mean?” The term is usually associated with taking a dying person’s life so that s/he does not suffer pain; however, its literal meaning is not outrageous. Euthanasia combines two Greek words: eu meaning good (think of euphemism or eugenics) and thanasia meaning death. Many limit their concept of a good death to not having to suffer, but certainly Christians hope for more than that when they are dying.
Because we desire to die in God’s grace, we consider having the sacraments of Penance, Anointing, and the Eucharist as part of a happy death. We also make wills to avoid disputes among relatives over our belongings. More importantly, we plan to assure those close to us of our love. Since an ideal Christian death includes reconciliation with one’s enemies, we will address as well those who have caused us difficulty. We still may lack one item on our agenda.
In the reading from Acts Paul has death on his mind as he speaks to the leadership of the Ephesian church. He intimates his affection for them by saying that he never held back in what is most important – telling them about the Lord Jesus. In this way he models the faith that we also hope to convey as we depart.