WHAT AFTER DEATH?
A question that would make you think:
What after Death?
In Los Angeles
In 1971, a simple Coptic young man rode with an American man, it was after midnight, and they discussed the following:
- Where are you headed?
– To the Coptic Church on Robertson Street
– Are you crazy? Are there any prayers held at this time of the day?
– It is Saturday before Easter
– Say the truth, are you going to a bar?
– No, to the church
After a long silence, the Copt asked the American man: “What is your religion?” The American man made fun of him, and looked at him as if he were stupid. He did not talk for a while, then he asked the Copt: “If after death you find God, what would you do?” They stopped talking, and when they arrived at the church, the American man asked if he could go in with him to that church that is praying until that time of the day. Then we saw them coming in, and the American man was surprised to see big numbers praying to God at this hour, and he started to cry, asking the Copt to always talk to him about God.
The human being is honest with himself, and if gets lost when he faces the reality of death, he secretly asks himself: What do I do if I meet with God? This is why the Communist atheists avoided, to a great extent, talking about death in their books. It was said that Lenin wrote a letter to a friend of his, twenty years after his son’s death, telling him how he is losing peace, as if his son had recently died. Time did not give him any comfort in the death of his son!
The following is a piece of poetry written by a theist soldier the night he was killed in the field, recorded by Kosti Bendley in his book “The ways to God”:
“Listen my Lord, I never talked to you till now
I was told you do not exist
And then, as an idiot, I believed
Last night, in the hole of the bomb that I was in, I saw your heavens
So, I was sure they lied to me
I love you so much and I want you to know this
Look, a big battle will take place
Who knows? Maybe I’ll come to you that night
Strange! Since I knew you, I stopped fearing death”
After death in the Old Testament:
Death in the Old Testament was depressing, and it pointed to God’s anger, and destruction of the human being forever. It talked about waking from the dead, especially in Ezekiel 37, and despite that, death in the eyes of the Moses law was nothing but impurity. Whoever touches a dead man, cannot pray or come near anything holy, unless he goes through steps to become pure.
Death or Crossing:
Since the “Word of God”, the provider of eternity, came to your world and carried our nature, He entered with us even in the road of death, through the cross, to transform us to the beauty of crossing. In the eyes of our Christ, death is nothing but sleep, that is, a temporary rest (John 11:11, Matthew 9:24)
Our Christ was crucified for our sake, and from a place where the Jews could see, he went in the tomb, to transform it from impurity, to a holy God, where the angels would long to be in. With this, our savior made us cross from the pessimistic view of death, to a hope for joy in the heavens. Death became the last door that would separate us from God, and with opening this door, we meet with our beloved, face to face forever.
Mar Afram the Serion says: “Glory be to you, who made your cross, a bridge over death, the souls would cross it from the house of death to the house of life”
St. John Golden Mouth wrote to a young widower, to offer his condolences for the death of her husband: “It is all about him sailing to a quiet port, taking a trip to God, who really is his, therefore we don’t have to be sad, but have to be happy, because this death is not death, but it is some kind of migration. From earth to heaves, from living with people, to living with angels and archangels, and with God.”
Death and holiness of the body:
Our Christ woke from the dead, with his wounded body, but his body is glorified, goes up to the heavens, and when we unite with him, we look at our bodies, not as a heavy weight on the soul, or as an evil source, but as a partner with the spirit in the eternal glory. Our body is honored and sacred. We might abuse its feelings, and senses or emotions, but we have the holy spirit of God, that we obtained with the holy touch (myron), and is able to renew our nature all the time, so we look to our body in all its capabilities with glory, repeating: “Crowned him with glory and honor”, Psalm 8.
We look at the body of the other gender, not as a source for satisfying a temporary lust, but as a Godly gift, that is to be honored, not to be separated from the spirit or the personality of the human being. The members of the body – even those we think are ugly – have their own dignity!
This is how through death we honor our bodies in the Lord!
Death and the coming life:
Death is crossing to another world that God prepares for us, in the night of his suffering, He said: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me so that you also may be where I am.”
The voice of St. Paul went towards the third heavens, and came back to tell us about his experience saying:” No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”: 1 Corinthians 2-9.
– St. John visualized it as follows: Entrance to the throne in heaven and with the heavenly singing. Revelation 4.
– Great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:9-17
– A bride beautifully dressed for her husband, Revelation 21:2, dwelling of God is with men, Revelation 21:3
Death and Love:
If there has been a good taste in the world, then its secret is love that bonds us, we humans, with each other, then what will death do to love? “Love never fails”, 1 Corinthians 8:13
When the human being takes off his body, for a while, then he comes back and enjoys it glorified, love will not be taken away from it, and will not lose the good taste of its human bonds, but his spirit will be lit with the fire of Godly love towards humanity, and we express it after we go, not with human behavior, but with effective prayers for the salvation of all.
The deceased Father Michael Ibrahim was asked: Do the deceased feel us? He answered with two true stories: The first one was that we was thinking about something that no one knows about but his late son Dr. Ibrahim. He asked God to send him his son, then he saw him coming to him in a white dress. He said: “Father”, he answered him, “Son, you are dressed in a white gown, how do I dirty it for you with the pains of this life? Bless me and leave”. The second story was during his service in Kafr Dawood, where a jeweler had died, and his pious simple wife was crying. He appeared to her and asked why she was crying. She answered: “Because you left me alone, who will get our seven daughters married?” He told her: “Open the drawer, behind it you will find a magic drawer with Lebanese blessing”. She did, and found a “sack” that she did not want to open until her daughters’ uncle would come, so that he would take his share in the inheritance. The uncle cried, and refused to take what his brother had left to his daughters, and after repeated requests, he took what was in the sack to his jeweler shop for the daughters and got them all married.
We hear thousands of stories, even from non-Egyptians, about the work of Pope Kirolos the sixth in people’s life through his prayers. They are practical lessons, declaring that death will not destroy love, but will expose its depths, and show its light, so that the deceased would practice his prayers for the salvation of the world.
My dear, do not fear death, there is no loss as long as you are tied with Master Christ, the defeater of death! The martyrs and saints died with their bodies, but they are alive in their love, taking care of all of us with their prayers.
Now, let us hear the answer to that question that we always think about in our deep thoughts, practically, and in our daily life.