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Death as a Retreat

If I do not take up the retreat called death, I may never know the real taste of being with the one who resurrected after defeating death on the cross

In my childhood, when the golden rays of rising sun forcefully open my eyelids, the first sight was my father getting out of the home with a spade on his shoulder. One day I asked my father ” Pappa, When will you be back? ” He hold me close to his chest and whispered in my ears “George sir has given me some work. After completing it, I will be back home when the sun sets”. When the sun kisses the Arabian Sea, Father would enter into the house with a smile proclaiming the satisfaction of having completed the work entrusted to him on that day. After cleansing the body and quenching the thirst, he would close his eyes so calmly embracing me.

Death is a retreat to the heavenly home with the satisfaction of having fulfilled the duty entrusted to one, in the sunset of one’s life which one started on the dawn of birth with a spade of responsibility on the shoulder given by the creator.

Even to Messiah, who crucified death on the wooden cross, death was a retreat to his Father’s heavenly abode from where he climbed down on the daybreak of his life with responsibility of establishing his Father’s Kingdom of love on earth. After 33 years of hard work, He set out to his heavenly home in the sunset of his life.

It is our experience that when a child is born, the child cries and child’s near and dear ones burst into cheers. When the same child grow and die, the one sleeps calmly with a smile on his /her lips and his/her dear ones burst into tears. There is a reason behind the paradox we see. The newly born child cries because the child looses the paradise of happiness the child experienced in child’s previous state of being in heaven. When the child dies as a grown up person, s/he sleeps calmly with a smile because he returns to the paradise of happiness in heaven from where he came down. If I do not take up the retreat called death, I may never know the real taste of being with the one who resurrected after defeating death on the cross.

The book of Revelation reveals death as a retreat. “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord because they may retreat and rest from their labours”(Rev.14:3). Jesus opens up the meaning of death as a retreat by saying that the believers, who die, retreat to me to enjoy the heavenly happiness (John 14:26). As St.Paul says if we desire to be with Jesus and away from body, the only way is to accept death as a retreat. In the opinion of Ecclesiastes, “The day of death is better than the day of birth”(Ecclesiastes 7:1). Because death is a retreat to our original home where only the happiness resides. However we study swimming theoretically, to feel the joy of swimming, we have to dive into the swimming pool.  In the same way, however we study about the heavenly bliss, to experience it we have to retreat to heaven through death. When the rain drops that fall from heaven to earth retreat as vapour, it unravels the inner meaning of death as a retreat. As St. Augustine says our hearts are restless on the earth and it will rest only when it retreats to the Father through death. Let us re-treat our minds to take up death as a sunset to retreat to find out the rays of dawn of heavenly happiness.

I (with pride): “at any cost, I will make you mine”.

Soil (with humility): “without any cost, I will make you mine one day”.

Fr. Joby Kochupurayil CST

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