REST IN HOPE

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‘Rest in peace’ is the  final greeting that we are entitled to in this world though  it often becomes a  mere courtesy to say these precious words about  those who  leave  us forever.

But for this wish to  become a reality in  our  lives  we should allow ourselves to  rest in hope while alive. Resting in peace is the natural progression of a life spent in hope.  David nurtured this hope till the very end. He wrote; ‘Therefore my  heart is glad, and my soul rejoices. My body also rests secure’ (Ps 16:9). Paul considers  this hope  as the cornerstone of  salvation. ‘For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is  not hope. For who  hopes  for  what is seen? But if we hope for  what we do not see, we wait for it  with patience’ (Rom 8:24-25).

We come across a person who patiently waited for something that was  unseen and unheard in the past. Strangely he was  no saint, not even a man with a  decent history. He was  a criminal and was  waiting  for the  inevitable –death  on a cross- when  he uttered a few words that compelled the evangelist to record it  in the Holy Book. ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom’ (Lk 23:42).

Remember that  he lived at  a time when the thoughts about life after  death and more specifically life everlasting, was  totally different from what  we understand  today. Also remember that  while uttering these words, he was  sure that  there was no chance of  him escaping from the cross. In those    critical moments preceding his death, he somehow mustered the hope to see  what was in store for him  after death.  In a flash, he   realized that he was  leaving  the familiar world that he was  in, for good. But simultaneously,he was blessed with a vision of the  eternal  light that illuminated another kingdom at the end of the tunnel where  Jesus was to become  king.

The very fact that there is life after death  encouraged  him to  try for it. Luck was on his part as  the sole authority to  open the  doors of this eternal kingdom for him was  by his side at that  decisive moment.  Hope sprouted, flourished,  and bloomed in his soul, all in a moment and  its fruits  came out through his lips.  Jesus was  quick to reply, as he knew that    a word  of assurance was the   ‘Viaticum’  badly needed  for that  poor soul. ‘Truly I tell you, today you  will be with me in Paradise’ (Lk 23:43).

For a soul so blessed to  hear it from the Lord, death was  a mere  passover from life in  hope to rest in peace.

If a person  who was  going through  moments if excruciating pain could place his whole trust in the Lord in the hope  of getting entry into the kingdom of heaven,  what  prevents us from approaching ‘the throne of grace with boldness, so that we  may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need?” (Heb 4:16).

With the conviction that our  prayers will  find favor with the throne of grace, let us also   pray for  the grace to live in hope so that  one day we will  also rest in peace.

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