A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Praying for death

In today’s first reading (Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17a), two people in very different yet extremely difficult circumstances pray for death.

God does not answer their prayers.

Instead, he moves to fulfill their underlying needs.

God forbid that any of us should feel so oppressed by the circumstances of our lives that we should wish or pray for death and yet it often happens that some people – sometimes even people close to us – feel so bad about their lives that they seek death (and sometimes destroy the precious gift of life God gave them).

Anyone who feels tempted to commit suicide, whether ourselves or someone we know, should seek and/or be given immediate assistance: spiritual, practical, emotional, and psychological.

Today’s first reading reminds us that death is not an answer. Even if one does not consider the eternal perils beyond the grave, one find that death fulfils no positive need and provides no good in itself. At best, to paraphrase Shakespeare, it removes us from “the ills we have” but opens us to “others we know not of” and “in that sleep of death, what dreams may come… must give us pause”.

Thus Tobit, afflicted by blindness, prays for death, but God’s answer is to fulfill his underlying need: to heal his blindness. Likewise, Sarah, afflicted by a series of cursed relationships (literally), prays for death, but God’s answer is to fulfill her underlying need: a marriage literally blessed in heaven.

We may have reason to feel bad about this or that in our lives and perhaps sometimes it feels as if there is nothing in our lives but darkness and pain.

It is at times such as these most especially that we must pray, not for death as Tobit and Sarah did, but as our Lord did: that God’s will may be done in us, for it is in the eternal, all-powerful, and loving will of God that we can receive what we truly need and so enjoy true and lasting happiness in this life and beyond.