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by Erwin dela Rosa

tombstoneWhile I was driving to school a couple of Monday mornings ago, I pondered: “Is there life after death?” Or, “Is there an afterlife?”

I thought such because I had been assigned to give the reflection during the wake that we were going to have in the afternoon. It was for the bereaved family of our former vice president for academic affairs.

Dr. Benigno F. Castro of Baluyot, Bautista, Pangasinan passed away on February 11, 2010 – just a day before his sixty-sixth birthday. He was a very good and honest man. He stood up and fought against corruption. He led the F9 movement, the group of professors who advocated against corruption within the university, which was formed on February 9, 2004. He gave himself selflessly by fighting against the former university president, the same one who had caused the university to wander in unchartered waters because of his shameless greed.

God is so good. He provided the answer by revealing words from the scriptures that prove there is an afterlife. Through the rosary vigil organized, written, encoded, and printed by a Roman Catholic colleague in the college, God provided concrete and clear answers to my introspection which served as the springboard to my reflection.

So is there life after death or what I will call the afterlife?

Yes there is. The Bible, which I deem as the ultimate source of both sacred and practical truth, provided the answer.

There is life after death because firstly, Jesus Himself was resurrected from the dead. The second reading in the prepared vigil was about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ three days after his death from the cross. I believe that if there is no life after death, He could and should not have resurrected. His resurrection only shows that life does not end in death. It shows that there is life after death. The scripture says that just as Jesus Christ resurrected, so too are those who believe in Him and those who have fallen in deep sleep with Him in their lives. So there is life after death because Jesus Himself brought life after His death.

There is life after death because secondly, Jesus raised Lazarus from death. This was the third reading in the vigil. The story of Lazarus being raised from death by the Lord Jesus Christ is for me, another proof that there life after death. The mere fact that Jesus raised somebody from death, for me, implies that there is more to death than the end of life, but there are some more to live for after an earthly death. For me, if death is an end in itself, then Jesus would have not bothered to grant the desire and plea of Martha and Maria for their brother Lazarus.

There is life after death because thirdly, Jesus Himself said, “I am the resurrection and the life.” The Bible narrates that those who died with Jesus will be resurrected when the trumpet shall sound and all who are in deep sleep will arise and be resurrected. If there is no afterlife, why will Jesus say that He is the resurrection and the life? If death is the ultimate end, then Jesus would have not resurrected and would have not made pronouncements that He is the resurrection and the life.

I was assigned the fourth reading and to give a brief reflection. The reading was about the pronouncement made by the Lord that He is the bread of life and that through his body and blood we will find life. After reading my part, I shared my reflection by speaking about my contemplation and the answers I found about the truth of life after death or the afterlife.

I went on to expound about the bread and blood. The literal bread is a staple we eat to give us energy and to sustain our life. Meanwhile the blood supplies our body through its various organs with needed oxygen and nutrients through circulation. Since Jesus called Himself the bread of life, we can then logically deduce that Jesus, who is the bread, is the giver of life. As an allegory, we can then view Jesus Christ as a necessity to give and sustain us with life – just like how we need bread or food in order to live. Jesus Himself said that we ought to live not by bread alone but with every word that comes out from Him.

Further with the allegory, I view the blood both as the cleansing blood of the Lord and His Spirit. Since blood supplies our body with oxygen and nutrients, the Spirit, which after all, is life-giving breathes in us life. It is said that it was the Spirit which brings life that was breathed by God through the nostrils of Adam in order for him to have life. Ancient scriptures call this life-giving breath, air, or spirit as “Roa”.

Since we take in food and our blood is within our physical body, we ought to take in Jesus too inside our life and breathe in the Spirit within us. In order for bread and blood to perform their life supporting functions it should be taken in and be within us, respectively. So too is Jesus, His blood and His Spirit. Christ, His blood and His Spirit should be within each person in order to have life and afterlife or life after death.

Since Jesus is the Word who is also the bread, I went to ask those present just as I ask the reader now, “Are you eating or taking in the word daily in your life to provide you with nutrients and strength?” Have we been reading the Word of God lately on a daily basis just like how we eat food or bread on a regular basis? Have we been breathing in the Spirit through prayer in a frequent basis so as to sustain us with life?

There is an afterlife for God resurrected from the dead, roused Lazarus from death, and boldly said that He is the resurrection and the life. These events and pronouncement prove that there is something beyond death.

He was instrumental in my entry into the university eight years ago. According to my former superior in the main campus, now the vice president for academic affairs, when I competed for the position of information officer eight years ago it was Dr. Castro who broke the deadlock. To break the tie, Dr. Castro had to vote. He reviewed the written test, the hands on test and his notes on the interview and voted for me.

As information officer for two years, my office was on same the floor as his’. I found him to be industrious and hardworking. There were times when I worked late publishing newsletters, information portfolios and press releases for the university. But I wasn’t alone; I often wondered why his office is still lit and there will I find him, still working.

There were times when I just visited him in his office. We talked about academics and culture. There was also a time when I couldn’t help myself and asked him why he did not run for the presidency. There I learned how the former president had deliberately forgotten about their gentleman’s agreement that Dr. Castro would be the successor. I will also never forget the time when I aired my grievances. He calmed and tempered me, especially while I was all fired up. He is known as the “fatherly and clean” state university vice president: Worthy of the presidency but denied the opportunity.

I will never forget too that he once said: “Journalism [and government] is always wanting of incorruptible individuals.”

On Dr. Castro’s coffin was written: “Death is not the end, but just the beginning of eternal life” – a straightforward yet profound truth that summarized the answer to my question. Truly he deserves the afterlife.

image credit: mugley via Flickr

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