How to Cheat Death

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Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24)

The fact that human beings die is a very sad and humiliating reality. When we hear that a person we once knew has died, the next question we ask is: “What killed him/her?” Underneath this question is a desire to know how to escape death. However, as Jesus teaches us today, the only way we can cheat death is to live in a manner that is worthy of eternal life.

In today’s Gospel passage, John tells us: “This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the sabbath but also called God his Father, making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18). Jesus was fully aware that he had been marked out for death. This must have been very painful but at the same time, Jesus knew that His death was the beginning of another life. Jesus did not pray against death (as most of us would do), rather, He used the occasion to teach us certain truths.

One: There is life after death. Jesus said: “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (John 5:21). Do not be scared of death, it is not the end. Jesus added: “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” (John 5:25)

Two: To do good is to cheat death. Jesus noted: “The hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29). In other words, while we cannot avoid death, we can avoid hell. In fact, as Jesus puts it, “he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24).

Jesus died on the cross so that we may not suffer eternal damnation. It is the greatest desire of God to see that at the end of our lives, we are united with Him in heaven. This desire is what we see echoed in today’s first reading from the prophecy of Isaiah. “Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted. … Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion for the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:13-15).

God is a prodigal father who will never forget his children. If today you hear these words, harden not your heart, repent and come back to Him. You never can tell what day would be your last on earth but you can cheat death now by living a righteous life.

Let us pray: Lord Jesus, I place my life in your hands. I know I must die one day but when it happens, may I not perish in hell. Amen.

Bible Study: Isaiah 49:8-15, Ps. 145:8-9,13b-14,17-18, John 5:17-30).

© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu

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