HOMILY – 13TH SUNDAY [B] 2018 Wisdom 1:13-15; 2:23-24
The current euthanasia debate turns on the premise that no one really wants to die but, if death is inevitable, individuals should have the right to decide their own time of dying. There might be some sense in this if we were just individuals, autonomous, disconnected from any other part of life. But we are not. As St Paul reminds us in one of his Letters, The life and death of each of us has its influence on others. If we need any other reminder of our connectedness, we have only to reflect on the spontaneous reaction of horror and sympathy following the tragic head-on smash in Taranaki this week that claimed seven lives.
Our first reading today takes the approach that death does not come from God. Death is not one of the gifts that radiate from God’s love – God takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living. [Wisdom 1:13] – so, where is the responsibility for death? There are, in fact, two kinds of death: one is simply the natural process by which the cycle of life is maintained – leaves falling from the trees to become the nutrient for the continuing life of the forest; each season dying into the next; and our own human life span drawing us to an ending which, the gift of faith assures us, is only the beginning of greater life.
The other kind of death is the one we inflict on each other: brutal killings, irresponsible behaviour, warfare, greed for power and wealth that destroys the natural order. We champion death when we disregard or abuse the dignity of others or their right to life; when we deny the care that will protect and enhance our environment or one another.
Jesus was laughed at when he said that a child everyone was convinced was dead, was only asleep. He took her by the hand and told her to get up, and she did – and all were overcome with astonishment. [John 5:21-43] Beyond that caring, respectful action of Jesus, is his message that life, like love, never comes to an end. His whole mission was emphasising what we heard in the first reading that God did make (us) imperishable, he made (us) in the image of his own nature… And that nature is Trinitarian, a giving, sharing, relating nature.
Jesus’ words to the community as he returned the girl to them: Give her something to eat, puts the responsibility for nourishment and for life on to others. We are alive because of one another. We only really die when we refuse to share.