Mystery of Death – General Introduction

We could doubt about many things but who can doubt about the fact of biological death? We are surrounded by it. Almost every day the Newspapers, Television, Radio etc reminds us of death. But what they report is about accidents, murders, wars but what they do not report about is those who died a natural death nor do they give us each day the statistics of the total number of people who died on the previous day. When we hear that (for example) 70 people died in an accident we are shocked and talk about it speculating about the causes. What we forget is that the total number of people dying throughout the world on any given day runs into an average of 6 figures and in any calendar year, it runs into an average of 8 figures!

Is death only a biological factor or is there something else in it that is to be paid attention to? Animals also eat, drink, sleep and reproduce. Human beings do the same but how qualitatively different these acts are. We neither eat, drink, sleep nor reproduce like them! These actions acquire a quality of humanness about them when they deal with human beings. So the death of a human being also cannot be exactly like an animal’s.

At the outset I wish to settle a question which is normally treated in connection with Christian Anthropology (or treatise regarding Original Sin). What is normally said is that the human being before coming of Original Sin was endowed with the gift of immortality. Some have taken this to mean the absence of biological death. This need not be so. It need not mean exemption from biological death but rather the biological death which is necessary for all material organisms would not have had the painful, protesting character it acquired with Original Sin. The redeemed man who is in union with Jesus Christ has to acknowledge that in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, the sting of death has been removed (Cf. 1Col 15: 56-57 “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”) and hope fills every man who faces death.

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