On the Death of the Just

First Point - What a difference between the death of the sinner and the death of the just man! This same difference is found in their lives. The life of the sinner has been sweet and pleasant, but his end is bitter and terrible. The life of the just man has been filled with trials and sacrifices, but his end is sweet and peaceful. That which made up the happiness of the sinner during life is his torment at death, but that which made up the pain and suffering of the just man during life is his happiness and consolation at death. The death of the sinner brings an end to the goods and pleasures of time, and plunges him into the evils and sufferings of eternity. The death of the just man brings an end to the evils and sufferings of time, and bids him enter into the goods and pleasures of eternity. What a difference between the death of the sinner and the death of the just man. Which death do you choose?

Second Point - The works of the just and of sinners accompany them after their death; but just as their works are very different so their rewards are very different. The works of sinners are their condemnation and punishment; the works of the just are the cause of their justification and recompense. At death, the crucifix is presented both to the sinner and to the just man. The former beholds there his Enemy and his Judge; the latter, his Friend and his Saviour. The one sees in this divine model a visible mark of his reprobation and the source of his despair; the other feels, in his love for his Saviour, and in his conformity with this divine model, a powerful motive of confidence and a pledge of his predestination. Death tears away the one from all that he loves and cherishes, in order to attach him inseparably to all that he hates and fears. Death separates the other from all that he despises in order to attach him inseparably to all that he loves and hopes for.

Third Point - Which of the two deaths do you choose? Now there is time to choose; at death, it will be too late. Do you not turn away in horror from the death of the sinner? Do you not desire the death of the just man? This desire is unjust if it is not supported by your conduct. Do you desire your death to be precious in the sight of the Lord, and your life edifying to meh? Do you desire a sweet and holy death? Live with fervor if you desire to die in the odor of sweetness and sanctity; live in perpetual fear if you desire to die in hope; do, during life, all that you will wish to have done at death, and you will have nothing with which to reproach yourself, nothing which you should fear.

Take the resolution to live the life of the just.

With him that feareth the Lord it shall go well in the latter end. Sirach 1:13

You will know how to die well, when you will have known how to live well. - Saint Augustine of Hippo

- text taken from Meditations for Every Day in a Month, by Father Fran├žois Nepveu