March 27, 2020 – Life and Death

We're all going to die.

Not of the corona virus. Some will die, but as a society we will survive it. But all of us will die some time; we are powerless to prevent that. What is in our power, is to live well.

In the current crisis discussions are going on about how much we can demand or expect from people in order to save lives, or to limit illness and death? The controversy over the prohibition of smoking in restaurants in Austria, which was drawn out over many years, touched on a similar question: does the concern for the health of third parties justify limiting the rights of individuals (e.g., smokers or owners of restaurants)? Opinions are scattered over a wide spectrum: some believe that measures should have been taken earlier and been ever more strict; others believe that the current measures are already excessive.

The christian faith could possibly play a mediating role in this discussion. We believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who loved us unto death, and who rose again from the dead. So we are convinced: death is not the worst thing that can happen and health is not the most important thing; the most important thing in life is love and death is, for the one who believes and loves, the door to eternal life. Thus christian faith "relativizes" fear in the face of a pandemic by giving us a deeper understanding of the meaning of life and of death.

But christian charity also moves us to be concerned and to take care for others as for ourselves. And so the christian faith also confirms the importance of taking the risk of the illness seriously, out of love for our brothers and sisters who could be hit by it.

The Gospels show Jesus consciously and willingly embracing his death, yet also experiencing fear of suffering and death, show his conviction of the victory of life over death, yet also weeping over the death of Lazarus.

It is a fruitful paradox of Christianity. Because we believe in the victory of God's love over death, we are empowered to more intensely value life and to champion it.

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