The Railway Station

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When I think of death, the scene of the railway station comes to mind. There one sees travellers. They journey in different directions for different destinations. Each has his own journey to make. Each has his luggage. Some lug-gage is light but others heavy, causing much nuisance to all including the owner. In the train the travellers make friends with fellow passengers as one helps the other, perhaps also shares his food packet which he brought along. On the platform there is a clock that indicates the hour of departure. There are also family members and friends who have come to bid those who are parting 'Goodbye'. I have often observed how when the train begins to move and leave the platform, these family members and friends who are left behind, shed tears.

All of us are travellers and life is a Journey. At every moment we are Journeying. Every day we take a step forward and thus draw nearer to our destination. Our final destination is heaven because there we have our real homeland and from there we await as Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to reflect in which direction we are Journeying and what is our destination.

When travelling we need to check our luggage and take only that which is useful. Everything else becomes a nuisance both to ourselves and to others as well. Moreover, on this journey we need to take along only that which we can carry with us to heaven. And that which counts for eternity is charity alone. Hence, as fellow passengers, let us love one another, carrying one another's burdens and thus we shall fulfil the commandment of the Lord. Love is all that matters. Neither our fame, nor our honours, nor our power or social influence. All these visible things last but a moment, those that are invisible are eternal. The only thing that is eternal is love because love never dies. "Love, and do you as you please," St Augustine used to say. All the rest is worth nothing because "in the evening of our life we shall be judged by love alone" (St John of the Cross).

On the platform there is the clock that indicates the time of departure. This hour has already been fixed for each of us by the Lord. Even if we head for the same destination, we do not leave together. Each one has his own hour. When will this hour be? We just do not know. Everything lies hidden in the mysterious designs of God. But when the guard, that is the Lord, whistles, we must depart and cannot delay. Hence, we must be prepared at any moment because the Lord has made us under-stand that He will come like a thief. And the thief comes suddenly when we do not expect him.

Finally, the family members and friends left behind on the platform weep. Every departure causes some pain. There is the void to face. There is the distance that separates. There is solitude to experience. One feels the absence of the dear ones who have de-parted. No one can enter into the sanctuary of another's grief. This remains a sacred place, reserved, particular and personal. We can only in silence respect the mystery while remaining helpless onlookers before the grief of others, because we suffer and die alone!

The only person who understands us in these difficult and hard moments is Jesus. He has made the journey of death. And He has returned to console us and say: "Let not your heart be troubled. Have faith in God and have faith in me. In my Father's house there are many places. I go to prepare a place for you, I Who am the way, the truth and the life." These words comfort us for they teach us that death is not extinguishing the light but only snuffing the lamp because the sun has risen!

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