We begin this reflection with an anecdote told by the famous and controversial filmmaker Woody Allen: “Two friends are having a lively discussion. -According to you, is there an afterlife? The other, after a long pause for reflection, replies: “And according to you, is there a life before death?”
It serves to introduce the theme of terminal death and paschal death, which should not be confused. Explaining the resurrection is very difficult, because we have no experience of it. It is much easier to talk about the cross, because as we all suffer, we understand it immediately. To get some glimpse of what the Paschal transformation entails, the narrative and symbolic path is the least thorny. Let us try, then, with a story to say something about Easter.
It is a story that J. Shea includes at the beginning of his book Stories of Faith. It tells the story of a young man caring for his dying father. The father, still relatively young, is dying of cancer. His agony, imminent death, is also very bitter. The terminal illness is consuming him. Although, according to the doctors, he should have died long ago, he is in hospital, clinging as best he can to a life that is slowly ebbing away. His body is riddled with tubes. Despite the continuous doses of morphine he is given, he can’t help but suffer in continuous, desperate pain.
Every night without fail, after finishing his work, his son visits him. He sits by his bedside and holds his father’s hand and caresses it. She watches helplessly as he suffers without being able to do anything for him. His visits are repeated over many days. Finally, one evening, sitting in his usual armchair, the son says to his father: “Dad, give yourself up! Trust in God, die. You don’t need to fight any more. Anything is better than this. In a few minutes, the father calms down and dies with great peace”.
The son then realised that his words had expressed a very important truth: the certainty of trusting in God and surrendering to Him. That man, who was helped to die by his son who loved him so much, had his Good Friday. Then he crossed the threshold of death to meet God. He did the same as Jesus: he was finally able to return his own spirit to his Father in heaven.
Let us savour, in conclusion, these words of Narciso Yepes, the great Spanish guitarist and deep believer, at the end of his life, which are along the same lines: “Since I have been living with illness, I think more about death than before. I feel it is close and friendly; in short, nothing terrible. Yes, I am worried about leaving without having had enough time to fulfil the mission that God has entrusted to me. The day I feel fully convinced that I have finished my task on earth, the passage through this life will have been a feast, and leaving will be the beginning of a new feast”.
Juan Carlos cmf