MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Fearless Like John the Baptist
Good people have nothing to fear at the hour of their death. If God holds them in his loving hands, who will be able to snatch them from him? It is true that the powers of darkness try to tempt and attack even saints at the hour of death. But it is also true that God continues to offer help, and even increases his graces for his faithful servants at this dangerous hour. As the Psalmist says: The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble (Ps 9:10).
The servant of Elisha was struck with fear when he saw his city, Dothan, surrounded by the enemy. What shall we do? he asked the prophet. Elisha answered: Do not be afraid, for there are more with us than there are with them (2 Kgs 6:15-16). So it is with Christians who face death. The devil will come to tempt them, but their guardian angels will come to strengthen them. Their patron saints and protectors will come also, as well as Saint Michael the Archangel whom God has appointed as the defender of his faithful servants at the time of their death. The Blessed Virgin Mary will also come to protect her children who so often prayed to her for help “now and at the hour of our death.”
Above all, Jesus himself will come to protect against all temptations those innocent or repentant sheep for whose salvation he died on the cross. He will give them the courage and strength they need in that last struggle. Full of courage, then, the Christian can say: The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom should I be afraid? (Ps 27:1). Origen says that God is more concerned for our salvation than the devil is for our destruction because God loves us far more than the devil hates us. God keeps his promise, says Saint Paul. He will not let you be tested beyond your strength (1 Cor 10:13).
Saint Alphonsus Liguori
Saint Alphonsus Liguori († 1787), a bishop, founded the Redemptorists. He is a Doctor of the Church. [From Preparation for Death: Prayers and Consolations for the Final Journey. © 1998, Norman J. Muckerman, c.s.s.r, Liguori Publications, Liguori, Missouri. All rights reserved. Used with permission.]