Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Jesus is Placed in the Tomb ~ The Fourteenth Station


The Shroud of Turin

When it was evening, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, called Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be handed over. So Joseph took the body wrapped it in a clean shroud and put it in his own new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock. He then rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away. Now Mary of Magdala and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulchre. (Matthew 27:57-60)


St. Matthew tells us that the linen shroud was clean and the tomb was new. These are signs of love for Jesus, aren't they? An executed man could not be placed in a tomb where a righteous man was already buried. So the tomb being new emphasizes that Jesus was executed. 

Some Christians have settled for a very polite, sanitized, restful religion. They've lost the sense of outrage which is at the heart of Christianity: God's edgy choice in becoming human and winding up executed. Once you get that - everything is different, even one's understanding of what religion is about.

That Jesus was executed, we might think Christians would have a particular sensitivity towards the imprisoned and especially those on death row. One could ask how a Christian can be a defender of executing people. To execute someone means we have given up on those persons and all possibility of their conversion or change of heart. Conversion begins with God's grace; conversion is God's business. 

Some people determine that certain offenders are beyond conversion. It might seem that way. But if God can effect the parting of a sea, raining bread from heaven, changing water into wine, even resurrecting from the dead - how can I say anyone is beyond God's reach to the turning of  his or her heart?

We might finally note that as Jesus was buried, a great stone was rolled in front of the tomb, to make sure Jesus was sealed in good and tight. But a great stone can be rolled over the doorway to the human heart too - keeping that heart sealed up, protected, safe and undisturbed:

  • A great stone of hate.
  • A great stone of pious indignation.
  • A great stone of stubborn pride.
  • A great stone of protected ignorance.
  • A great stone of indifference.
  • A great stone of self-serving religion.
  • A great stone of self pre-occupation.
  • A great stone of ...

5 comments:

  1. The Holy Spirit has energized you in this post. I am grateful for that.

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  2. I am guilty of this. Thinking that people are beyond a conversion of heart. It is my own great stone that prevents me from seeing the potential goodness. I beg for the mercy of God to help me roll away this stone. Thank you for this message of looking at ourselves first. We have to open our own hearts first and the love of God will spread. Amen.

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  3. There is a wonderful hymn: Help Us To Love Each Other. One of the verses asks God that we would love people as "we find them or as they may become." That's an important thought: as they may become.

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  4. Isn't this the real message that Jesus gives us? To love unconditionally and without limits? Thank you for all that you do Father Stephen. It is greatly appreciated.

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  5. And I greatly appreciate you and all the folks who follow these posts. I send a blessing in Holy Week! Watch for the Easter Sunday post!

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