Commentary on the Gospel of

Tom Shanahan, S.J.-Creighton University's Athletic Department

The Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed

The only sure things according to the old saying are “death and taxes.” Reminding us of the need for being ready for the ultimate event of our lives.  There is no escaping our death.  The invitation here is to live fully the call of God.  Our lives flourish by God’s gift of his Son and our brother, Jesus who teaches our way back to God.

Often, we approach death with darkness and dread.  But there is so much more to dying than what initially confronts us.  One fruitful way to view death and dying is from the perspective of being born to new life.  Let us see how that relates to the community of saints celebrated today.  Our own mothers, fathers, siblings and friends, our dear ones, who have gone to God before us provide evidence of God’s goodness.  Today we celebrate their lives and seek to discover their deaths as enlightenment for us.

Cycles of life and death abound in our lives.  Those cycles played out each day, each new season of the year, each project we undertake and ultimately our own   living and dying. All these have the life-and-death factor which us deal with the final conundrum of our lives.

Let us be attentive to  human birth as conclusion and not solely beginning. We must die to life-in-the-womb (conclusion) so that we can be free to live as human persons (beginning).  So, death becomes a beginning to something wonderfully new.

Between a fascinating, wondrous life in our mother’s womb, there comes an end.  That end is the termination of astounding growth in the womb of our mother so that we become free to be born into the complex world we call life as we know it. 

So, human birth is a dying to one world so that we can live into a new world.  Literally, life in the womb becomes too small and confining for us to flourish and we are expelled from the confines of our mother’s body.  Dying to womb-life then becomes living to the wonders of a whole new world, life on earth as we know it.

Similarly, human life lived out in all the ups and downs of our strange new world, becomes too small and confining so we are expelled from that life through death.  And, similar to our human birth, we are born into an eternal life, a living with God face-to-face which we will have to experience to fully know what it is.  The contours of our eternal life with God can only become clear after death and new birth into glory.

Sorry to be so abstract!  but I believe that contemplating life/death as death to the small (and confining) world we inhabit aids our discovery of God’s goodness in us.  Our task?  To receive gratefully and lovingly God’s gifts in the life/death human realities of growing up into whom we are at our core, gifts of God.

Loving God, creator of our birth, guide us as we live and honor you each day.  You call us into life and service in the wondrous world you created for us.  Be with us as we experience the faith, hope, and love with which you grace us.


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