I recently came across this question: Are we living in the land of the dying or are we living in the land of the living? My response to the question was, of course I live in the land of the living. But then came the next sentence: We live in the land of the dying, preparing to go to the land of the living.
Living in the land of the dying is a message of hope. In the Apostles’ Creed, we pray, “I believe…in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.”
Everything---humans, plants, or animals--- will one-day die or decay. This is a normal part of life on earth. The Easter Season proclaims that people of faith meet life in death. At our baptisms, we are given the promise of eternal life. Eternal life is not off in the distance.
Rather it is here and now. We see death not as the end but as doorway to the fullness of eternal life. As one writer notes, “While on earth, our body is the vehicle in which the spirit operates. We use our body to express our spiritual side—whether for good or ill. That is why we honor the bodies of the dead. Without our bodies, we could not show love or create a masterpiece.” Jesus, through his death and resurrection gifted us with eternal life. While on earth, Jesus was limited by time and space, as are we. It was by returning to the Father, once again free of earthly limits, that he was able to send his Spirit, his divine life to live in us. It is in receiving the Spirit into our lives that we become partakers in the divine life. We receive the Spirit first in baptism. In confirmation we receive the fullness of God’s Spirit, In Eucharist the Spirit moves in and through us continuing our transformation of being truly God like in our words and deeds.
Yes, we live in a dying world, but we have a life force in us that is eternal. Just as Christ embraced life on earth and lived it as fully as possible, we have the same charge. Our task is to live life as fully as possible anticipating the day when we are fully alive in heaven.
The closest we come to that unity on this earth is in the Eucharist. The Christ who ascended into heaven comes down under the guise of bread and wine to fill us with his Spirit. “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day” (Jn 6:56). Eat and live!