None of us lives as his own master and none of us dies as his own master. While we live we are responsible to the Lord, and when we die, we die as his servants. Both in life and death we are the Lord’s. (Rom 14: 7-8)
This beautiful passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is often used at funerals, and appropriately so. It’s an insight that’s also helpful for us at any time. But, why do we belong to Christ? And what does that mean for us?
Well, first of all, we belong to Christ because he was born, and he suffered and died – for us! By his sacrificial death on the Cross he rescued us from the power of sin and the darkness of death. Jesus redeemed us, he “purchased us” and paid for us with his own precious blood. He has every right to claim us as his own!
But then, if we belong to Christ, what does that mean for us?
Well, first, as St. Paul writes, “While we live we are responsible to the Lord.” That means that every aspect of our lives is directed by our relationship with Jesus. We strive to keep the Commandments and live a holy life because of our faith in Christ. We satisfy our constant longing for Christ by our prayer, by the faithful reception of the holy sacraments, and by our participation in the Church, the Body of Christ. We reach out to help the poor and the needy because there, too, we find Christ.
But there are also benefits to belonging to Christ. Because we belong to him, he will always look after us and protect us. (Don’t we, too, take care of the things we treasure?) Jesus will show us the path of life, he will guide us when we are lost, he will lift us up in times of trouble. There are Biblical images and popular devotions that speak to that truth: Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Divine Mercy devotion beautifully affirm the love and care of Jesus.
Finally, St. Paul reminds us that “both in life and in death we are the Lord’s.” There’s reassurance and peace in knowing that Jesus doesn’t abandon us when we die. In fact, we are confident that when we pass from this world to the next, our friend Jesus will be there, at the gates of Heaven, to greet us, embrace us and to welcome us home.
Something to think about: Belonging to Christ is a comforting thought, isn’t it?