There's a legend about a master and servant. It seems the servant wasn’t very smart The master would get very exasperated with him. Finally, one day, in a fit of temper, the master said, “You're really the stupidest man I know. Here, I want you to carry this staff wherever you go. And if you ever meet a person stupider than yourself... give them the staff.”
So time went by, the servant would encounter some pretty stupid people. But he never found someone stupid enough to give the staff to. Years later, he returned to his master's home. The master said, “I see you haven’t found anyone stupid to give that staff to”.
After a while the master said, I am very sick “I'm going on a journey soon.” A journey from which I won’t return,” The servant asked, “Have you made all the necessary arrangements?” “No, I guess I haven’t.” “Well, could you have made all the arrangements?” “Oh yes, I've had time. I've had all my life. But I've been busy with other things.” The servant said, “Let me be sure about this. You're going on a journey from which you will never return You've had all your life to make the arrangements, but you haven't.” The master said, “Yes, I guess that's right.” The servant replied, “Master, take this staff. At last, I have truly found a man stupider than myself.”
Maybe that’s just a story, but it reflects the way many people treat death. Everyone knows that it’s going to happen people just don't want to think or talk about it's impact on them personally. Like the man in the story, too many people know they are going on this journey… but don’t prepare for it.
On the other hand, all of us would like to know what happens when we die. Behind all of this interest in death there's a deep down feeling that there is more…something beyond this life. There's curiosity… There's the desire to want to believe that our purpose is more than our years here on earth.
Some people believe that we will be reincarnated… hopefully into a higher living being each time. Others say that everyone's born with an immortal soul, regardless who the person is, that soul will rest in peace forever in paradise. Then there's those, like the Sadducees in today's gospel, who simply say that when you die, that's it... there's nothing else beyond your last breath.
Jesus' reply in today’s gospel affirms beyond all doubt that there is a resurrection and that there is life after death. That we can’t take what we experience in this life and project those experiences into the new life in heaven. Heaven's way beyond anything we experience here. One new day, we will awake to a day beyond all other days by the love of God. All trouble, all doubts, all fears, all pain will be gone. We will become “like angels” by “the God of the living”. We are raised to a joy and peace beyond anything that mortal minds can conceive.
When that happens, the words of this homily will seem trivial, and even the visions of heaven in the Bible will seem an inadequate description of the real thing. Now we see dimly... then we shall see with absolute clarity.
Thanks be to God!
Preached by Deacon Gerry Mattingly on the Mass of the Air broadcast on November 6, 2016.