Ben Sira has this to say about how our thoughts of death should impact us: “Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the most High’s covenant, and overlook faults”
This ancient biblical writer is recommending that the best way to prepare for death — our death and the death of our loved ones — is to accept the reconciliation that God offers us and offer this same reconciliation to others. We are to be first reconciled with God, breaking from sin, obeying His commandments, and being faithful to His covenant. Secondly and simultaneously, we are to reconcile with others, refusing to nurture conflicts with them and overlooking their faults and offenses against us.
If someone like Ben Sira who had no idea of the resurrection of the dead reminds us that our preparation for death demands our reconciliation with God and with others, how much more imperative is this reconciliation for those of us who believe in and look forward in hope for the resurrection of the dead? Do we realize that, because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we are constantly invited throughout our lives to reconcile with Him and with all those for whom He has shed His blood?
This explains why Jesus is not satisfied with Peter’s offer to forgive his brother only seven times in Mt 8:21-35. Jesus ends His teaching about the unforgiving servant with these words, “So will my heavenly Father to do you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.” The unforgiving servant “had no way of paying back his master.” But he received from the king-master a reconciliation that he could never merit, “The master let him go and forgave him the debt.” This can be seen as a non-final judgement moment for the servant because he was now given the chance to grow in that freedom he had received or to abuse it.
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