"Fred Castro has just passed away a
few minutes ago." This was the news
that greeted me one morning last week. I
was surprised. A few days later a friend
phoned to let me know the quick succession
of the deaths of the brother, first, and
then the mother of Father Eric. 'It must
be hard for Pale, very hard', I said to myself.
Death is always a mystery. I understood this
very vividly one Sunday evening when I stood,
stunned, near the body, still warm, of my
father who had just died. He had worked so
hard to raise us up. He had managed to carve
a very successful niche in the musical arena
back home. He was always so assertive in
his ideas and so giving in his life. And
yet now he was dead. What was the point of
it all? What is the point of striving so
hard to succeed when one day every one has
to face the cold massive embankment of death?
In a sense, Christianity is bizarre. It just
refuses to accept reality. It insists on
putting ecstasy when there is only loss.
It states tersely that death is only a horizon,
and a horizon is only the limit of our sight.
It even dares to insist that death, this
fearful monster that devours everything it
finds on its way, has in its own turn been
swallowed up in victory.
Jesus Christ who is "the Way, the Truth,
and the Life" has something which no
one else has. He has victory in his bosom.
Blindness... he approached and gave back
sight. Deafness...he approached and gave
back hearing. Lameness...he approached and
gave back the use of legs. Death....he approached
and gave back life. Just like that! Lazarus
was dead four days. He went in front of the
tomb and cried out, "Lazarus, come out!"
And Lazarus did come out. On his own two
This is not wishful thinking. This is reality!
"Why should any of you consider it incredible
that God raises the dead?" asks Paul!
Jesus Christ is more powerful than death.
He conquered it. And this Jesus Christ is
still alive. He is the one who took Fred
by his hands and led him to heaven where
he will enjoy life forever. Jesus Christ
was his patient travelling companion in life
here on earth. Now he is his joyful travelling
companion in heaven!
Death is a teacher. It basically teaches
us two things. First, to be smart. In life
there are things that pass: family, money,
career, house, success... they are great,
but they pass. And there are things which
remain: love, kindness, forgiveness, reading
the Word of God, going to Church, helping
others... these remain and will accompany
us. Consequently, a wise man will invest
As KUAM News reported, Rande Sablan who worked
with Fred at EPA, said "Fred was really
a spiritual man. He was well connected to
that side of his life that spoke to a relationship
with his God, with his Church and with his
neocatechumenal community. If he needed to
go and fulfill a commitment with his Church,
he would go and he would put aside work..."
"Where is your furniture?" queried
the American tourist of the holy man who
had hardly anything in his room. "Where
is yours?" asked knowingly the holy
man. "I am only a tourist!" answered
flustered the guy. "Well, so am I!"
concluded the holy man who realized, of course,
the transient nature of life on earth.
And lesson number two. Now that Fred is with
Jesus, every time we create a contact with
Jesus, we will be making contact with him.
Our dead are only a prayer away. Every time
we make an act of kindness to anyone, since
Jesus is in that someone, we will be making
an act of kindness to our dead relatives.
They are only an act of kindness away. Every
time we smile at someone, since that someone
is in Jesus, we will be smiling at our dear
ones who passed away. They are only a smile
away. Yes, that near. Fantastic!
"Do not let your hearts be troubled!",
said Jesus. He was right of course. The resurrection
is not an appendage to the Christian faith.
It is Christian faith!
When his housekeeper asked Karl Marx, founder
of Communism, if he wanted his last words
recorded, he retorted angrily, 'Go on, get
out! Last words are for fools who haven't
said enough." Ludwig van Beethoven,
the eccentric German Austrian composer, on
his death bed, could only utter, '"Friends
applaud, the comedy is over." The 34th
President of the US, Dwight D. Eisenhower,
calmly asserted when he was dying in 1969,
"I've always loved my wife, my children
and my grandchildren, and I've always loved
my country. I want to go. God, take me."
When Saint Joan of Arc, the French military
heroine was being burned to the stake, her
last words were "Hold the cross high
so that I may see it through the flames."
Yes, hold the cross high and death
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright