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In the face of one of the biggest fears known to man-death-the Catholic faith provides a positive outlook upon the loss of ones physical presence on earth. Through the life and death of Jesus Christ (the hypostatic union of son and Father,) a Christocentric theology resolves the mystery of death through faith and grace. Gods only Sons death grants a Catholic Christian with an answer to the why of death, resulting in a realistic, yet hopeful attitude toward the loss of the physical being, while continuing to believe in the flourishing life of the spirit in a realm beyond our understanding. Atheism has always questioned the essence of religion, as Freud once said, Religion protects us from one another. Atheist Burtrent Russell once stated that he regarded faith as a disease bored of fear, but in the face of these religious challenges one still will be faced with death, the ultimate mystery known to man, often finding themselves with question. Its always easy for one to question that which is unknown, to prejudge that which evokes fear.
Thus, in the event of death one will often find these questions directed toward God, the unknown, and in the face of pain and sorrow find faith to be a fruitless comfort. Marcus Borg (theologian) attempts to examine Christ in order to discover the true essence of his faith through a historical interpretation of scripture. By doing so, one can discover the truth about his/her own faith, the reality of Christs humanity, and the truth that lies within humanity through imitatio dei. The analysis of Borg's faith begins with the earliest concept of Christ as the Son of God, but as Borg delved deeper into his faith and scripture, he discovered that the Christ he once knew as a child was non-other than the Christ of faith. A man made in the image of God who saved humanity through love and compassion. But these views of Christ are also sharply contrasted with the historical Jesus, thus, through Borg's careful analysis of the scriptures; he brings forth the concepts of a pre-Easter Jesus and post-Easter Christ.
Borg's attempt to research Jesus is a means to reveal His humanity, to bring forth the concept that He was not always all-good; that He too had a temper, He too felt pain and sorrow, but at the same time, He also had compassion and mercy. By doing so, through the careful analysis of scripture, Borg brings Jesus reality closer to our world; demonstrating that Christ was just as flawed and human as us. This culminates itself as the final revelation of Gods love, by attempting to save us through a human example of pure love and compassion. Borg carefully reads into scripture as an oral tale that depicts certain aspects of the Jesus of faith, but at the same time, brings forth the Jesus of history as a means of placing this ancient faith in perspective. By doing so Borg proves the essence of the Catholic faith, proving the atheistic idea of an illusionary-faith, to be wrong. This analytical and educated revelation of Jesus adds a new dimension to the Catholic religion, which brings us closer to our faith.
The Gospels introduce the life of Christ, bringing forth the man, the human being who shapes the Catholic Christian faith through the Word. Due to the coming of Gods Son in a human form, the Catholic faith has interpreted Gods love for his children as endless. If the divine came to earth in a human form, then our humanity must have a certain degree of dignity, providing Catholics with a positive human view that transgresses into the life beyond through Christs Saving grace. Death takes place daily, every hour, every minute, around the world, and one asks his/herself why? In light of this question, the Catholic faith provides an answer, which shines through in the Post Easter Christ of Salvation, the ultimate revelation of Gods love. The pain questioned, and the sorrow felt in the presence of death, brings forth this image of salvation, the core of the Catholic faith through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through the sobering image of crucifixion for a crime not committed, the death of this Savior who came to us in his human divinity provides the Catholic Christian with the belief that he will attain salvation through Christs death. As mentioned previously, Christ's Pre-Easter existence and spiritual resurrection provides the Catholic Christian with a positive sense of self that comes forth through our religious Faith.
Faith cannot simply be encompassed by generalizations, by the ritualistic worship every Sunday, or by performing every obligation preached by the Ever -Powerful church. On the other hand, faith is the relationship between God and man, reaching a higher level of intellect by understanding ourselves as mortals and God as our creator. Thus the Christian faith becomes an avenue in which individuals have found comfort and guidance through the revelation of Gods Word through Christ. Furthermore, Death attains a closer relationship with God and his/her fellow man, a social means of reaching a commonality with one another. Karl Rhaner understands the human person as a self-conscious and free being, as one endowed with the capability to co-create ones self freely with God the way one will be for all eternity.(32) Thus, eternity is born through freedom and in this freedom we as a people of the church excise our humanity to the fullest. This humanity is what grants Catholic Christians with the ability to understand and cope more readily with death, illustrating a hopeful attitude that culminates through Jesus Saving grace. As a Catholic, this attitude toward ones human vulnerability has proven true in my life; (having been in the presence of death due to the loss of a loved one) my faith has provided comfort and hope.
For, despite the loss of the physical being, I know that the spirit will continue to flourish, my faith compels me to believe so, for I know that Gods love is endless. Despite the loss of the bodily being, the spiritual being is finally reaching a complete state of humanity, becoming like Christ, For the more human we become the more Christ-like we become. The Catholic Christian knows that once a spirit has entered the realm of God, then his humanity has reached its final state of life, entering an endless love that is incomprehensible to the nonbeliever. This is what culminates in the life of a Catholic Christian through the hypostatic union of Father and Son, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and the study of Post and Pre Easter Jesus. The question of death is answered. Death is not death to a Christian, its life beyond, life in the world that is unknown to us.
God always has and always will be the ultimate mystery known to man, through death, the spirit will continue to live in this loving mystery, thus the faith and grace that filters every aspect of the Catholic faith is the hopeful comfort that shines through in the presence of death. A Catholic Christian knows that this human soul's life is ultimately just beginning, demonstrating the ultimate declaration of faith and the final revelation of Gods love. (As an illustration of faith, I have chosen to include a personal attachment that I wrote for the eulogy of my great-grandmother this summer, I feel that it illustrates the belief that culminates in my life of a Catholic Christian in the face of death.) We are gathered here today, to remember the life of a once brilliant light that has left our world behind. A light that has filled the hearts of family and friends with memories that will be passed on from generation to generation. As I reflected on her life, I asked myself: How could we possibly forget that fiery personality, free spirit, and independent will? How could we possibly forget that radiant smile that spoke more than a thousand words? As I pondered these questions, all the fond moments we had shared came flooding back to my memory... All those Burger King Lunches, and evening spaghetti dinners.
Memories of the woman who relished in any form of gossip, and who cherished every moment she spent amongst those she loved. Memories of the woman, whose presence filtered every room, and whose soul touched the lives of so many. And suddenly, amidst this loss that I felt so deep within my heart, I began to realize that her life was truly just beginning, flourishing in a realm unlike our own. Ive come to realize that She has finally reclaimed her freedom, freed from the pain of a mortal body aged by time. And, just like the Ever returning spring, she is faced with a rebirth of spirit that is beyond our understanding. So, her light has not gone, for, it continues to shine upon us like the sun, blooming in every flower Growing in every blade of grass, and But most importantly, she continues to live within the hearts of those she loved, and She has, and forever will live through me....
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