By Fr. Emeterio Barcelon, S.J.
The past week has been filled with the waves of death. My benefactor and friend Nita Gana Locsin, then the celebrities, Roilo Golez, a lover of his country, then Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef who liked balut, and then the third priest to be killed in Central Luzon while saying Mass, my former assistant, Ronnie Vidal, the father of my helper, Sotero Tinte, and a number of others. The Middle Ages was saturated with the gloom of death mostly because of the plague and the unending wars between kingdoms. Thank God we have relative peace in our country. We still have the killings in the Muslim areas but we hope that will stop. They say death and taxes are inevitable. But really, taxes we can evade but death we cannot.
We have faith that there is a next life. If there is none, this world would be very unjust. There would be no justice if there no next life. Here the evil ones prevail. The people who want to just look for their own good are those who prosper. Those who follow justice and goodness often suffer. So there must be a next life to even things up. We have had people like Lazarus who came back from the dead and told us of their death experiences. But it is only Jesus who predicted his death and on his own power came back to life. This is our faith and, to repeat, this would be a very unjust world, if there is no next life to bring us all to justice and love. The sufferings of this world according to the saints, are no comparison to the rewards and joys of the next life.
Jesus made many miracles to try to convince us of his power over the forces of nature. But his ultimate miracle is His resurrection. If he did not rise from death, we Christians are the most pitiable people. But we believe and our hope is that after death, we will live in a just and peaceful kingdom, full of joy and happiness. I have lamented the loss of the brilliance that have gone to waste as, for example, the mastery of Jose Rizal of the Spanish language as exemplified in his Ultimo Adios: “Si sangre necesitas para tenir tu aurora vierte la sagre mia derama la en buen hora.” (If you need my blood to color your dawn, to you I offer mine. Spill it at the right time.) Death has robbed us of the business brilliance of Cesar Virata or the organizational skills of Alejandro Melchor. and his assistant, just as brilliant, OD Corpus. What a waste of talent but death has robbed us of the brilliance of these men.
Life is the opposite of death. We celebrate life in this world as the ultimate gift of the Lord. But it is life in the next world that we hope and aspire for. We try to stretch life here on earth and we have to some extent. We have conquered most of infectious diseases. We have dialysis machines that keep hundreds alive. A few years ago, once you have to go on dialysis you have about a year to live. Now the machines are so good that they have kept people alive for over 20 years. We are coming close to conquering diabetes and cancer just as we have conquered tuberculosis and leprosy. We look forward to a life to come of love and happiness and peace. O Death where is your sting, the prophet sings. Life expectancy has risen for about 40 years in the last century all over the world.
We are looking for signs of life on Mars and in other nearby planets. So far we have not found any. Hopefully we can find another planet that can sustain life and to where we can migrate after we have destroyed the viability of our own. But now we have to try to keep the viability of our own with all our effort and the grace of God.