Death And Its Promises; A Religious Perspective
“It is appointed for men once to die” Hebrews 9:27
Death is one subject matter that the African culture holds very sacred. It is spoken of with so much deference but the biblical reference above talks about death in a very impassive manner. In fact it avers that it is an avoidable end for every mortal being and indeed one that all must look forward to with utmost preparation. This is exactly so when we reflect on the concluding part of the verse – “… but after this the judgment”.
Christianity just like many other religions upholds the belief of a life after death. This after life may be for some, eternal happiness in heaven (John 14:2, Matthew 18:10, Philippians 3:20-21), for others, eternal damnation in hell (Matthew 13:50, Revelation 2:8, Matthew 25:41) and others temporary suffering in purgatory before heaven (2 Maccabees 12:46, Luke 12:59, Matthew 12:32). It is believed that upon death, the departed souls will be admitted to any of these destinations based upon judgment by the Almighty – 2 Corinthians 5:10
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
As far as Christianity is concerned, it is very clear what one must do to inherit the kingdom of heaven which is of course the preferred destination of the faithful. One must believe in God (John 3:16), obey God (Matthew 7:21), be good unto others (Matthew 25:34-40) and ultimately deny one’s self and follow Christ (Luke 18:22).
The prize of eternal bliss in the presence of God is the summit of the struggles of adherents of the various religions. Other religions propagate varying means of actualising this esteemed glory. Such means may include but not limited to accumulation of wisdom, making of bountiful sacrifices, fighting, killing or being killed to ensure the reign of God here on earth.
Religions therefore employ the use of ministers or priests to propagate their beliefs to adherents and/or to win converts. For Christians particularly the most of the Roman Catholic variant a priest is one who has responded to call to a life of service to God for the good of His (God’s) children. Upon ordination, the priest takes a vow of total obedience to the will of God, vow of chastity and vow of poverty. He indeed possesses nothing but like Christ “possessing nothing, he owns all”. Yes, all of the faithful have been entrusted to his care (1 Peter 5:2).
He must for the remainder of his life proclaim the gospel with no reservations. His fulfilment which he must count as an extreme privilege is in the body and blood of Christ which he offers on the altar for his salvation and that of the faithful. It is this sacred mystery that he has been called to serve and to protect sometimes at the expense of his own life.
So, what I know is that on Tuesday, 26th July, 2016 when two teenage boys (Abdel Malik Petitjean and Adel Kermiche) who had earlier pledged allegiance to the Islamic State unleashed terror in a Catholic parish at Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray near Rouen in France where 85 year old Fr. Jacques Hamel was celebrating early morning mass and killed him by slitting his throat, they sent him to heaven a martyr. What I do not know is the fate of the two boys who were killed afterwards for having killed a minister of God in the name of God.