Saturday, April 02, 2005

The Narrative of "clinging" and "fighting" for life

Yesterday, as I leaped from news webpage to news webspage to gather scraps of information on the Pope's condition, I couldn't help but notice Foxnews' "pro-life" caption which said "Pope Clings to Life" or something similar. This is pro-life gone awry. It is absolute nonsense. The pro-life notions have no gone so far that death is to be detested at all cost and the absolute goal of life is to fight for every ounce of earthly existence.

What the heck happened to hope? Christian, precisely because of our being Christians, embrace death now because we know that the beauty of this life pales (x infinity) to the glory of Christ we encounter in death. We are no longer afraid to die. When it is time to die, the narrative of clinging to life like one clings to a weathered vine as she hangs precipitously over a canyon for her life is ridiculous.

So it was with no small amount of satisfaction that I saw a priest, it might have been Fr Thomas Reese, emphasize on TV that the Pope is not clinging to life as though he is afraid to die. He noted that this is not a crisis. People get sick and die and the Pope has embraced it and is ready to die with joy. Clinging and crisis are not the Christian message, hope and joy are. Fr Nehaus who was also on, agreed with him.

Now, many dying people linger on because they understand the grief that'll ensue on their absence. That's different that clinging to life for fear of death or just for the sake of it to be pro-life or something.

The pro-life movement, in the case of Terri Schaivo's death and the Pope's situation has turned the message of hope from Christ on its head. Precisely because of the resurrection Paul notes in 1 Cor that "If only in the world we had hope then we are of all men most miserable." Our hope is a real hope in the world to come and it is a hope that we have a foretaste of through the Holy Spirit and through Christ's indwelling as Paul says in Colossiansm, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

Death has been overcome. We do not fear death. We live this life but are more than happy to move on when it is time, because our existence is no longer circumscribed by our earthly existence. This is why Paul can say that death has been swallowed up in victory and he thus mocks death, "where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory."


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