Becoming through dying


Perhaps someone very dear to you has already died, and you know the pain of losing them. Our Christian faith teaches that through our dying, “life is changed, not ended”.

Not only that: it teaches that “… all the good fruits of human nature, and all the good fruits of human enterprise, we shall find again, cleansed and transfigured…” (Second Vatican Council, GS 39).

In other words, nothing that is precious to us – in our own life or in the lives of our friends – is ever lost. It will all belong in the “new creation”.

It is natural also to remember those who have died.

This helps us to experience our on-going relationship with them.

A sense of still belonging to each other is heightened when our remembering is ritualized, as it is in our nation’s ANZAC memorial services.

A deep human instinct assures us of this belonging, and so does our faith.

This is evidenced by the participation of so many young people who are choosing to participate in these services.

Just as our life is a gift from God in the first place, so too is eternal life.

There are no words for describing the wonderful future God has in store for us. The scriptures use picture language, e.g. a great banquet.

And because it is a gift – not owed to us – we wait for God to invite us in, at a time of God’s choosing; we don’t decide the time – we don’t gate-crash.

Nor do we let our life or our death just happen to us; we actively receive them.

We receive gifts by saying “thank you.”

And remember: hope is not an assurance that things will always turn out the way we would like; rather, it is deep conviction that “all will be well” even when they don’t!

In the end, all our becoming is safely in God’s hands:

Do not let your hearts be troubled.
Trust in God still, and trust in me.
There are many rooms in my Father’s house;
If there were not, I should have told you.
I am going now to prepare a place for you,
and after I have gone and prepared you a place,
I shall return to take you with me;
so that where I am, you may be too. (John 14:1-3)


  • +Peter Cullinane was the first bishop of the Diocese of Palmerston North. Now retired he continues to be a respected writer and leader of retreats and is still busy at local, national, and international levels. Here he shares his reflections on sciences and Christian faith. To conclude the introduction of this series he quotes Albert Einstein, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
  • This is the twelveth and final in a series of chapters from his letter to senior students
  • Image: Manawatu Standard
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