V. Adoramus te, Christe, et benedicimus tibi.
R. Quia per sanctam crucem tuam redemisti mundum.
From the Gospel according to Mark. 15:46-47
Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped the body of Jesus in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb which had been hewn out of the rock. And he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb. Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Joses saw where he was laid.
|Bartolomeo Schedoni, The Deposition (1613)|
From the moment when man, as a result of sin, was driven away from the Tree of Life (cf. Gen 3:23-24), the earth became a burial ground. With as many burial places as there are men. A great planet of tombs.
Close to Calvary there was a tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (cf. Mt 27:60). In it, with Joseph’s consent, the body of Jesus was placed after being taken down from the Cross (cf. Mk 15:42-46 ff.). They laid it there in haste, so that the burial might be completed before the feast of Passover (cf. Jn 19:31), which began at sunset.
In one of the countless tombs scattered all over the continents of this planet of ours the Son of God, the man Jesus Christ, conquered death with death. O mors! Ero mors tua! (First Antiphon of Morning Prayer for Holy Saturday). The Tree of Life from which man was banished as a result of sin is set before mankind anew in the body of Christ. “If anyone eats of this bread, he will live for ever, and the bread which I shall give for the life of the word is my flesh” (Jn 6:51).
Though our planet is constantly being filled with fresh tombs, though the cemetery in which man, who comes from dust and returns to dust (cf. Gen 3:19), is always growing, nonetheless all who gaze upon the tomb of Jesus Christ live in the hope of the Resurrection.
Lord Jesus, our resurrection, in the new tomb you destroy death and grant life. R. Kyrie, eleison.
Lord Jesus, our hope, your body, crucified and risen, is the new Tree of Life. R. Kyrie, eleison
From the Gospel according to Matthew 27:59-61:
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. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher.
|Annibale Carracci, The Dead Christ (1585)|
Jesus, disgraced and mistreated, is honorably buried in a new tomb. Nicodemus brings a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight, which gives off a precious scent. In the Son’s self-offering, as at his anointing in Bethany, we see an “excess” which evokes God’s generous and superabundant love. God offers himself unstintingly. If God’s measure is superabundance, then we for our part should consider nothing too much for God. This is the teaching of Jesus himself, in the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5:20). But we should also remember the words of Saint Paul, who says that God “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere. We are the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:14ff.). Amid the decay of ideologies, our faith needs once more to be the fragrance which returns us to the path of life.
At the very moment of his burial, Jesus’ words are fulfilled: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Jesus is the grain of wheat which dies. From that lifeless grain of wheat comes forth the great multiplication of bread which will endure until the end of the world. Jesus is the bread of life which can satisfy superabundantly the hunger of all humanity and provide its deepest nourishment. Through his Cross and Resurrection, the eternal Word of God became flesh and bread for us. The mystery of the Eucharist already shines forth in the burial of Jesus.
Lord Jesus Christ, in your burial you have taken on the death of the grain of wheat. You have become the lifeless grain of wheat which produces abundant fruit for every age and for all eternity. From the tomb shines forth in every generation the promise of the grain of wheat which gives rise to the true manna, the Bread of Life, in which you offer us your very self. The eternal Word, through his Incarnation and death, has become a Word which is close to us: you put yourself into our hands and into our hearts, so that your word can grow within us and bear fruit. Through the death of the grain of wheat you give us yourself, so that we too can dare to lose our life in order to find it, so that we too can trust the promise of the grain of wheat. Help us grow in love and veneration for your Eucharistic mystery – to make you, the Bread of heaven, the source of our life. Help us to become your “fragrance”, and to make known in this world the mysterious traces of your life. Like the grain of wheat which rises from the earth, putting forth its stalk and then its ear, you could not remain enclosed in the tomb: the tomb is empty because he – the Father – “did not abandon you to the nether world, nor let your flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31; Ps 16:10 LXX). No, you did not see corruption. You have risen, and have made a place for our transfigured flesh in the very heart of God. Help us to rejoice in this hope and bring it joyfully to the world. Help us to become witnesses of your resurrection.
|Fourteenth Station of the Cross (detail),
Pfettisheim Saint Symphorian
Pater noster, …
Quando corpus morietur,
fac ut animæ donetur
paradisi gloria. Amen.
Hallowed be Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done
on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our Daily Bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.