Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Making death kind. . .

Until modern times hardly anyone would have thought death was kind.  If anything, the portrayal of death was always as a dark and unwelcome visitor, a thief who stole from us life and loved ones.  That view of death is waning as we have made our peace with death.  Indeed, it could be that we have gone much further than simply being friendly with death.  It has become a kindly figure in our lives -- more kindly than we would judge life itself.

The vast majority of people would find it hard to disagree with the statement that there are somethings worse than death.  From this comes the tacit approval of aborting children thought to have some deformity or handicap.  Even some of those opposed to taking the life of the unborn find it understandable to choose to take the life in the womb as a better and more kindly act than allowing a birth to a less than full life.  From this comes the difficulty even some of those opposed to abortion have of telling someone who is suffering in body or spirit that they cannot take their own lives and end their suffering.  From this comes the difficulty of even some of those opposed to abortion to condemn the euthanasia of those who seem to have no memory or cognitive activity or physical mobility.  The old line between offering only palliative care and extraordinary measures has slowly been erased so that even food becomes too much in the minds of some.  Death is kinder than life for many of those who would ordinarily say that abortion is wrong.

The cause of life is not merely an end to abortion.  It is even beyond the protection of life from its natural beginning to its natural end.  It is the view of life as sacred even amid suffering and handicap.  No life is so casual or precarious that we can dispense with it as a life unworthy of life or a life not worth living.  We are not the judges.  We are the guardians of God's precious and sacred gift.  That is all we can be.  Despite our technology and prowess with it, we are not the moral wizards who get to decide which life has value and which does not.  No matter how little you try to embrace this idea, it will lead you down the wrong path until no life has value until we assign it.  That is the beginning of the end.  But that is almost where we are now.

The votes on assisted suicide and abortion rights that have prevailed among us even against the overturning of Roe shows that this is not and never was a simple matter of one procedure.  It is inextricably woven into everything from reproductive technology to birth control, from how we deal with the aged or infirm who cannot produce to the way we view handicap and deformity.  We seem to have less stomach for life than we have for death and so even those who might come down on the right side of abortion are coming down on the wrong side of life.  Death is not kind nor friendly.  God may, in His infinite wisdom, be merciful to us in our suffering but death is never an ally of life nor even indifferent.  You cannot make death into a kindly figure.  Death is and will always be the dark figure without form or face who comes to steal what God has given.  The miracle of God is not to make death more friendly but to end its tyranny over us once for all with the resurrection of our Lord.  God has exposed death for what it is so that the life He offers in Christ may be more than our comfort but our hope.  Nowhere is this more profoundly true than in the midst of the lives of suffering who endue with grace, dignity, faith, and hope.  Sadly, we pity what we ought to be honoring as heroic.

1 comment:

gamarquart said...

“…death was always (as) a dark and unwelcome visitor,…” May I suggest that we must (not should) differentiate between our own death and causing somebody else’s. When our Lord told His Disciples on Maundy Thursday, John 14:28, “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father,” He said something that the Church has ignored throughout its history.
Also, 1 Cor. 15:54-57, “54But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. 55“O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Is victory a “dark and unwelcome visitor.”?
Where we mourn, our Lord rejoices and the Gospel teaches us to rejoice. When our Lord mourns, we rejoice, as when Lazarus was raised from the dead, because we do not understand the Gospel.
Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart