In the history of religious thought, from the primitive times until now, a consistent theme has breeched the thought of every sort of believer: death. Is this all life is? Is death really the end? Does my existence take me, in the final stage, to nothing? Without a doubt, death has been a subject of intense inquiry from the earliest times of religious and philosophical, indeed human, thought.
Pope Benedict XVI, in his homily given on Easter Vigil, confronts this question, and does so positively. The Bishop opens his homily with a brief summary of an ancient Jewish legend from the apocryphal book The Life of Adam and Eve, in which Adam, “in his final illness…sent his son Seth together with Eve into the region of Paradise to fetch the oil of mercy, so that he could be…healed”. Eventually, after some time searching and prayer, the Archangel Michael appears to them and explains that they will be unable to obtain “the oil of the tree of mercy and that Adam would have to die”. Such a myth “lays bare the whole of humanity’s anguish at the destiny of illness, pain and death that has been imposed upon us. Man’s resistance to death becomes evident: somewhere—people have constantly thought—there must be some cure for death”.