God did not make death. The writer of this statement is trying to find an explanation as to why people die. He goes back to the story of Adam and Eve and the serpent to explain the reality of death claiming death came through the envy of the devil. Death is not a mystery it is a reality of life. As someone has said, ‘no one gets out of this world alive.’ Our Christian faith tells us that death is not the end of life; it is the beginning of new and endless life. That’s all we need to know.
I’d like to say a few words on our second reading, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. When most people hear of ‘the church’ they think of the church’s hierarchy: pope, cardinals, bishops, priests and people. Everything is from the top down. It’s a one way street. At the time Paul wrote this letter, the Christian community of Corinth was light years away from the church of our time. There was no centralized government, no college of cardinals and no Vatican bureaucracy. The church Paul served was made up of small struggling communities of men and women who believed in Jesus Christ crucified and risen. These small communities were part of a larger community, the church as the body of Christ.
This is how Paul described the Christian communities we call the church. He compares it to the human body. Christ is the head and each one of us is a member of the body. He writes, “for just as the body is one and has many members so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptised into the one body. Indeed the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say, ’because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear were to say ‘because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ If one member suffers the whole body suffers and if one member is honoured all rejoice together with it.” And finally Paul says to all of us, “now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” Paul is emphasizing the interconnectedness and the interdependence of all the members of the church. We are all in this together, for good or for ill.
When Paul wrote this letter to the Christian community in Corinth the Christian community in Jerusalem was in dire straits. They were persecuted and they were poor. Paul was encouraging other Christian communities to raise money to help their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Paul reminds the Corinthians of how blessed they were financially and also spiritually. He encouraged them to be generous in this collection for the community in Jerusalem. Paul reminds them of the generous act of Jesus, though he was rich yet for our sakes he became poor so that by his poverty they could become rich.
Today we celebrate Canada Day. I hope we celebrate it with a deep sense of gratitude. This is a great country blessed with great people and an abundance of natural resources. I think we have an innate sense of social responsibility toward our own people and people around the world who have less for we know are belong to the community of nations. We had a great reputation for being very generous in our aid to other countries. But things are changing. The new budget calls for cutting back in some important social programs that will affect good people of welfare, the unemployed and people on pensions. Social services are being cut back in the name of efficiency. Budget cuts are gutting our foreign aid programs in so many areas. I believe we are losing our sense of social responsibility to our own people and our brothers and sisters around the world. We could be losing our sense of community and slipping into a me first mentality and a polarization of Canadians. ‘Nobody gave me any breaks and I did OK, let others make it on their own.’
On this Canada Day we can give thanks that we are citizens of a wonderful country and we can pray that our political leaders be given the insight to see how important, how just it is that we be as generous with others as God has been generous with us.