When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathe?a, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed.
~Matthew 27:57-60 (RSVCE)
Jesus laid in the tomb, reminds us of how we too will one day die and be buried. On one hand, there can be a sense of sorrow when we think of that certainty that awaits us all. On the other hand, we are also left with a feeling of hope. Jesus didn’t remain in the tomb permanently, but on the third day after his death, he rose from the dead. Since he died and rose again, we now have hope that our death will not be the final word – a glorious resurrection awaits us all who stay close to Christ in this earthly life. As St. Paul wrote:
“Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were buried therefore with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life”. Romans 6:3-4
Yet, we cannot take it for granted that since we were baptized, or because we are overall ‘prayerful’ and ‘good’ people, that our salvation is guaranteed. Far from it! Jesus said that we need to pick up our cross daily and follow him if we wish to be his disciples (Luke 9:23). That is an invitation to go through the continual cycle of dying and rising again with Christ in a spiritual sense so that on a regular basis, different areas of sin in our lives are put to death and newness of life is substituted in those places. Jesus didn’t say the cross was easy, but if we are willing to be united with His cross and death, we are assured that we also will be united with Him in His resurrection. We constantly need to put to death and bury our old selves, so that renewed continually, we live in the hope that we may one day rise with Christ and live with Him.
Lord, I pray for your light and guidance to show me the areas of my life that I need to put to death for your sake. Give me the grace, strength and courage I need to face those areas head-on, so that the power of your cross may destroy all those areas, and the power of your resurrection bring in new life and healing. May I not be bound by things of this world that fade away, but may I live this earthly life in a way that merits the eternal crown of glory which awaits me in heaven. Amen.
A quote by St. Irenaeus that I heard a few years ago had a profound impact on my life. He said,
“The glory of God, is a man fully alive.”
For most of my life, it wasn’t just certain sins, but it was also a number of fears, insecurities and areas of shame that weighed me down. However, I began to think about this: If I am a son of God by baptism (and indeed, I am a son of God by baptism) – then how could I allow myself to live paralyzed by all these things that did not come from God? I knew that as long as those unwanted areas in my life had control and power over me, I could not be ‘fully alive’ and live in the freedom that God intended me to have. I began to work on myself intentionally, patiently and charitably, with the help of prayer, grace and the wisdom of mature Christians in my life. I resolved back then to allow the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection to help me overcome my struggles. And Jesus came through! It has taken several years of healing and challenging myself daily, but I stand today knowing that the continual putting to death and burying away of all those areas, has brought me to a place of new life, new freedom and a new understanding that I don’t have to live as a slave to sin, fear, insecurities nor shame. I am a son of God in Christ, and I choose to continue to die with Him regularly spiritually so that I can discover greater freedom, glorify God in my newfound freedom and live in hope of the resurrection that Jesus has won for me.
- I will identify one area of sin/shame/fear/insecurity and resolve to work towards overcoming it or at least seriously chip away at it, through the rest of this year.
- I will recall – and share with my spouse/household – an area of my life where I now experience new life because I once crucified and buried an ‘old’ part of me with the help of Christ.
- I will prayerfully read Romans 6 to gain a richer understanding of the grace of baptism and how that made me a new being in Christ.