Letter from the Rectory September 2017
We tend to remember where we were when we first hear shocking and unexpected news – the assassination of JFK, 9/11 and, 20 years ago on 31st August, the death of Princess Diana. Her 36 years have been analysed like few others: her vulnerability that made millions identify with her; the insights from the sadness in her life that produced the desire to help others; her unhappy marriage and illness; her complicated relationship with media – all this has been much rehearsed.
Less well remembered is that on the day of her extraordinary funeral, the death was announced of Mother Theresa at the age of 87. The death of another woman, also famous around the world for very different reasons, was however not unexpected.
Princess Diana’s death 20 years ago made everyone stop and think – to ask questions about life and death, their meaning and purpose. Mother Theresa’s life and work drew us, I suggest, to the one who can provide answers and assurance to such questions. She continually talked about the primacy of Jesus Christ in her life, about the true nature of love and about the value of every human being. She lived a Christian life of great simplicity and passionate conviction.
The Christian Faith is all about our relationship with God; for it to flourish, we do have to do something about it. The good news is that God sent Jesus to bring us back to himself, and so in facing death we do not do so alone. Eternal life is a gift that God offers to everyone in Jesus.
The joy we can expect to experience in the life beyond the grave is captured in the words of the late writer Ben Travers. He wrote that he wanted engraved on his headstone:
‘This is where the real fun begins.’