Second Reading: 2 Corinthians 5:6-10
Courage in the Face of Death
6 We have courage. We know that we live here in our bodies, so we are far from the Lord. 7 Remember, we live by the way we believe, not simply by what we can see. 8 We have courage and really want to live with the Lord, even without our bodies. 9 So, we must be eager to please the Lord, no matter if we live here in this world or if we live beyond this world. 10 In the end, we must stand before Christ. He will judge us for the good or bad things we did in this world.
6 So, always being courageous and seeing that we dwell (for now) in (the home of) the body, we are absent from the LORD, 7 for by faith we walk (throughout life) not by sight. 8 We are courageous and are far more willing to be absent from the body and dwelling before the LORD. 9 Therefore, being eager, whether we dwell within (this world) or whether we dwell outside (of this world), (we are) to be well pleasing to HIM. 10 For all of us need to appear before the (raised judgment) seat of CHRIST, so that each (person) might receive (judgment) upon (the deeds) which (they) did through the body, whether good or whether evil.
Do you fear death?
When I reflect on my own mortality, I do have my doubts. Death (or I should say, the prospect of death) inspires dread, for many see death as a dark, lonely end to life. St. Paul, however, had a different view, for truly believed he would not die alone. He had an eternal friend in Christ. We Christians, like Paul, view death as a transition from one type of existence to another; through the transition, we have an intimate companion, Jesus. Of course, this view only comes with faith (5:7).
With this insight, we can now understand Paul's boast. He and his fellow missionaries had courage, simply because death meant life with Christ. Life here meant evangelization; life after death meant divine union (5:6-8). The goal of the follower was to please the Master, for soon all would stand before him to be judged (5:9-10). In such a situation, wouldn't everyone want the judge as a friend? Wouldn't the prospect of such a friend give one courage in the face of death?
As the old song goes, "We have a friend in Jesus." Indeed, a friend to the end (and beyond!).
Lean on your friend Jesus today. Lay any fear of death at his feet.