COMMEMORATING THE DEAD
“With the saints give rest (Μετὰ τῶν ἁγίων ἀνάπαυσον / Со святыми упокой), O Christ, to the souls of Your servants, / where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, and no more sighing, / but life everlasting. (Kontakion-hymn, Saturday Before Pentecost)
Today, because it’s the Saturday before Pentecost when we commemorate the dead, I’m thinking about death. I think it hurts us so much, when we encounter it, because we don’t accept it. And we shouldn’t. God didn’t accept it either, which is why He sent us His only-begotten Son to come and share it with us, and then to trample it for us, by overcoming it in the “life everlasting“ of His resurrection.
But why is it that death still can and does hurt us? Because our life in Christ, our cross-carrying journey, is a life-long process of “not accepting“ death; of learning to reject it in its many forms, both physical and spiritual, and learning to embrace the New Life God has in store for us, which is to be both physical and spiritual, in the bodily resurrection. This learning-process is a gradual and oft-painful one, for example, when we experience the death of our loved one(s). But when we commemorate our dead, we “exercise,“ so to say, our rejection of death in a positive way, as we “look for,“ and pray for, the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. So let me reject death today, and embrace faith in my death-trampling Lord, as I pray to Him to give “rest“ to my deceased loved ones, “where there is neither sickness nor sorrow, and no more sighing, but life everlasting.“ Amen!