Monday, August 23, 2010

Never Stop Feeding the Soul

At least I believe that as long as there is breath in one's body, prayer is efficacious and the Word of God can still bear fruit. After all, it is God at work and nothing can stop His saving grace. These are my thoughts as I pray for my mother who is in the last days of life imprisoned in her body diseased with cancer.

And why am I reflecting on this? The beginning of this year, my churchgoing mother confessed that she did not believe in an afterlife. As an orthodox Christian I do believe in an afterlife as revealed in Scripture. When her cancer was diagnosed as terminal, Mom declined any further treatments resigning herself to death as it was inevitable. As her health declined, she began not attending church as well as refusing communion from the lay Eucharistic ministers who would come by her apartment. This was her choice. But I have to give some credit for my beliefs to Mom and Dad as they raised me in the church. Growing up we heard bible based preaching. So seeds must have been planted.

But as I have grown, so has my theology. I pretty much am a Calvinist, a good 5 pointer if you know what I mean. God chooses us, we do not choose Him! Who is to say, that God cannot redeem Mom's soul while she lies in bed, now unable to speak, unable to eat? The parish Mom has been attending preaches a works righteousness. Outside of the Liturgy of the Word and the Eucharist, there is not a proclamation of the Gospel. Didn't Jesus say something about it being worse for those who cause someone to stumble? (Matthew 18:6) Is it not Jesus who calls us to life as we are dead in our sins and therefore cannot speak for ourselves? (Ephesians 2:1-5) I ponder these things as I have been exploring the burial rite from the American Book of Common Prayer in preparation for my mother's funeral. While doing this I have been reading the suggested Scripture readings to Mom aloud as she can still hear. And one suggestion from St. John's Gospel struck me with profundity.

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life. 25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, 27 and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation. (John 5:24-29, New King James Version)

If the dead can hear, why not a soul in a body close to physical death? Why can't a soul awaken to new life even if the body is broken? After all, God Himself will show mercy on whom He desires. But how will a person believe if there is not a preacher sharing the Word? (Romans 10:14-17) So if you have a loved one dying, never stop praying, never stop feeding the soul!