Catholic Q&A

In Christianity, when a person dies, they say, “he was called away by God.” If God controls the life and death of people, what is the reason for calling away a person in the middle of his life?

This is a really painful question for those who have been left behind by the departed person. It makes people feel like resenting God. I myself felt the same way when my elder sister suddenly died at the young age of fifty, leaving behind two children. However, the thinking of God far transcends our own superficial concepts, and we have no choice but to leave things we do not understand to his judgement.

Of course, to be parted from people close to us can be heartrending. However, Christians believe that this life does not hold the final key, and for human beings, what does have ultimate meaning is life in the presence of God. Hence for Christians, death, which is the end of life, need not necessarily be a misfortune. Rather, for those who live with a yearning for eternal life, death is the summarization and completion of that life. Death is the entry to life, and more than anything else, it is the beginning of the ultimate salvation we have waited for. It is the time for us to see the heavenly Father, who is the creator of all.

As long as people live they will be sustained by the grace of God, and they will prepare for eternal life in him. At the time of death, God will transform with the breath of his own creation the material of life that people have knitted over a lifetime, into an object of supreme glory. This will be done, no matter how shabby it may be.

This faith provides hope, even to us who have been left behind by the deceased. If we believe that our loved ones are alive and living within the life of God, then no matter how painful separating from them may be for us on this earth, it is ultimately however no more than a temporary separation. My sister originally used to live far away from my place and so I usually could not see her. After her death however I do not feel that she lives close to me. Just as people in close proximity to each other on the Suzume train may be physically close but mentally far apart, in human encounters too closeness with regard to distance is not always crucial. Originally my sister who lived far away and I were estranged. On the contrary however after she died, I felt close to her. Within the eternal life of God we have the fellowship of both the living and the dead, and this Christian belief is referred to as the “Communion of Saints.

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