The earthquake in Nepal that occurred on April 25th, 2015 led to the deaths of more than 7,500, according to today’s report. This disaster of a magnitude of 7.8Mw caused an avalanche on Mount Everest, mudslides, the destructions of landmarks, and forced hundreds and thousands of people from their homes. While most media reports showed pictures of destructions, humanitarian efforts from missionaries and other countries in their rescue efforts, the joys of finding survivors and talks on rebuilding, little was mentioned about the deceased. I was surprised to learn of the difficulties of Christian burial in Nepal in this article. As the majority of Nepal’s population are Hindus, cremation is their choice when it comes to handling the deceased. However, reverent burial of the whole body fits Christian believes and satisfies their spiritual longing, and their wish often have many roadblocks. For one, availability of burial grounds has been a problem for a while. In fact, Christians were protesting and went on hunger strike to urge the government to find them burial land back in 2011. The problem is that even when the government granted Christians a forest in which to bury their dead, the Hindus protested and even the police would prevent the burials of the Christians.
I have never put much thought about burials. We, in North America, enjoy religious freedom and all aspects of it, and we tend to take that for granted. I recently picked up a brochure of the Diocese of Hamilton on Policy Regarding the Disposition of Cremated Remains. It is clearly written that “it was the preference of the church for bodies to be buried to await the Resurrection on the last day, as Christ himself was laid in a tomb.” So, the Catholic Church lifted the prohibition of cremation for Catholics in 1963, but I wonder how many people really put some thoughts into why they chose cremation of their loved ones over burial when we had the choice?
As I am writing, I can’t help but thinking about the lyrics to “I know that my redeemer liveth” in Handel’s Messiah. “And though worms destroy this body, and in my flesh shall I see God…For now is Christ risen from the dead, the first fruits of them that sleep.”
Indeed, “Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.”(1 Corinthians 15:23) Let’s put more thoughts in this, so that we are ready when the time comes.