"We are nothing," is one of the most repeated phrases at wakes and funerals throughout the world. Three words that condense centuries of human wisdom. With such a statement we proclaim the obviousness of the ephemeral nature of existence before the inescapable date with death. Why so many worries, so many human struggles, so much effort to work? What is left of our efforts to live in a healthy way, to carry out exciting projects? Money, youth, success, affections... "Vanity of vanities", says the wise author of Ecclesiastes, "Vanity of vanities; all is vanity".
However, this temple-like truth hides an erroneous interpretation that in days like these in which we celebrate the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, it is convenient to clarify. I am referring to the custom imported from other religious traditions of disposing of the ashes of our deceased by scattering them in the air, in the water or in any other place that implies, in practice, their disappearance. Some think that, in this way, the deceased person merges with Mother Nature or with the universe; others simply -and surely with all their good will- intend to fulfill the dream of their loved one to enjoy forever the sea or the mountain that he or she loved so much in life.
I do not intend to judge those who have done so or those who have it so arranged. I would only like to help them understand that they are losing what our rich Catholic tradition has preserved for millennia and that it implies a great consolation and a call for those who remain. And it is that, by preserving the remains of our deceased, we are pointing out the very high dignity of human life, which is not extinguished even after death. It is true that we are nothing, it is true that human concerns are relative; but, be careful, we are much, through baptism we are made nothing more and nothing less than children of God.
The body is not the Platonic prison of the soul, it is not the container that is discarded once the contents have been used; the body is called to eternity, as the Risen One taught us, showing us the same hands and the same side that his friends had just buried. The human being is not a duality but a unity of body and soul. The Second Vatican Council affirms: "Man, by his very bodily condition, is a synthesis of the material universe, which, through man, reaches its highest peak and raises its voice to the free praise of the Creator. He must not, therefore, despise bodily life, but, on the contrary, he must consider his own body as good and honor it as God's creature that will rise again on the last day".
By keeping the remains of our deceased in a certain place, by going to visit them, by taking care of the places where we deposit them, we are manifesting publicly and to ourselves that the lifeless body of our loved ones is much more than nothing, for it has been created in the image and likeness of God and has been a temple of the Holy Spirit. And no, we are not "nothing".
Journalist. Graduate in Communication Sciences and Bachelor in Religious Sciences. He works in the Diocesan Delegation of Media in Malaga. His numerous "threads" on Twitter about faith and daily life have a great popularity.