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GOSPEL COMMENTARIES


 

 

 

HOW WE MUST DIE (EASTERN MORN A)

Christ had risen and had gone out of the tomb while it was still closed and sealed. He went through the wall, having now a glorified body. He would do this several more times, coming in and out of closed doors.

Thus, when the tomb was opened, it was empty. The women informed the disciples accordingly and, when Peter and John arrived, they saw the linen cloth and "they understood" -- Christ had risen from the dead.

If the body were stolen, the thieves would not have removed the linen; it would have been easier to carry the body with the linen than without the linen. Besides, it would be less suspicious to carry a wrapped body than a naked, dead body. If the body were stolen, the thieves would have not taken the leisure of folding and rolling the linen cloths and setting them neatly apart. The way the linens were arranged showed that there was no confusion, no haste. At one glance, the message was clear. . .the man wrapped in the linens leisurely stood up, removed the linens, folded them neatly and calmly walked out, i.e. Christ had resurrected. 

Christ was born in poverty and He died in poverty. He was buried in a borrowed tomb and had no clothing to cover Himself with. "I was hungry and you fed Me. I was thirsty and you gave Me to drink." But Christ never said: "And I was dead and you buried Me." Even the disciple who wanted to follow Christ was prevented from burying his father. 

Of course, we must bury the dead; but without extravagance and unreasonable vanity. But love for the departed makes us desire to provide beautiful tombs. . .no, not love, but vainglory. For whatever nice things you provide shall be consumed by worms, time and nature.

The best funeral preparation is to clothe yourself with almsgiving. Decorate your soul. This is what will make you distinguished, glorious and in safety. Yes, cover the body while committing it to the earth but first clothe the soul with almsgiving. If, in life, the Christian is told to dress simply, how much more in death? 

But on-lookers will laugh? But why mind the laughter of fools; these are not the things that deserve laughter. 

Easter is the most important feast of Christendom; with this, our religion can convince others that death is not death , that perishing in this life is not perishing but merely going to a better dwelling place. Therefore, show that you are not anxious of your funeral; instead you are anxious of your virtuous life as your winding sheet.

The way to prepare for our funeral is a life of almsgiving. When we die, let us have Christ as our sole heir. And let us beg our relations to continue doing almsgiving for the sake of our departed soul. With this, we may rest assured that we shall also resurrect with Christ.

St. John Chrysostom: "On the Gospel of John"

 

 

 

 

 

(02-02-04)

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