16th Sunday (A)
St. Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh
12th February, 2023
A recent headline caught my eye, life teaches many lessons, but what can we learn from death? It caught my eye first because it was a long headline. But it was the second bit that made me curious enough to read the piece beneath which gives an account of David’s journey since he was diagnosed with terminal cancer due to a brain tumour. It recalled the shock, the tears, the sadness of what might never be. He also recalled the positives of hope, appreciation, gratitude and friendship. He spoke candidly of the recovery of spiritual riches from earlier in his life, like returning to Mass. Having recounted his experience –he has remarkable insights that anyone of us can draw inspiration from.
“There is a force in the universe that’s more powerful than we are. Call it what you want
There is something out there that’s more power than us and that’s what pushes the grass through the ground. There is a life force that surrounds us that drives everything. Maybe that’s what faith is, I’m not sure.
The danger we get into is trying to see everything through a human lens -and it’s hard to believe in God solely with human eyes or human understanding. It’s a bit like trying to make deals with God, that’s not how it works. If you go down the road of trying to humanise your faith and you want proof all the time, you’re on to a loser”.
These thoughts on life and death are prompted by the line in our 1st Reading from Ecclesiasticus
“Man has life or death before him
Whichever a man chooses will be given”
The piece about what life or death can teach us is a wonderful example of how a particular approach or attitude to what life presents us with is so vital, so critical about how we manage the challenge, difficulty, person or sickness we may have to face.
Everyone has stresses and strains to cope with. In their most extreme forms,they become crises that lead to a sense of loss of control even chaos. But in the normal run of things,we yearn for a calm and balanced approach that enables us along with others to manage our way through. St. Paul writing to the Christians in Corinth was very much aware of difficulties of urban living so he speaks to them of the truly precious gift we are given through faith.
“We have a wisdom to offer those who have reached maturity –not a philosophy of our age” he admits. “The hidden wisdom of God which we teach in our mysteries is the wisdom that God predestined to be for our glory before the ages began”.
This is a real source of hope and inspiration for each of us in life. whatever the obstacles and difficulties we face we can bring a sense of hope, grace and blessing to life. Its absence is a
great void in the lives of so many to-day –because the wisdom of the age is that care of self alone is life’s purpose and end. David’s final reflection.
“Loss and even death are part of life
So there is sadness in life and death but
one learns that sadness can be its own gift to us.
It helps us to reflect and take stock.
Sometimes going through a great sadness
is necessary to come out the other side”.