Readings: Wisdom 3:1-9; Romans 6:3-9; John 6:37-40
Each of our lives is so unique, yet we all have two things in common: we are born and we die. Though the birth and death of each of us tell their own unrepeatable stories, that arrival and departure frame the existence of every one of us. We have no memory of where we’ve come from and no map for where we are headed; some say that religion was born of just that mystery!
Religion aside, our frustrated hopes and disappointed expectations, our failed potentials hint that there could be more to us than we ever realize within the compass of time and space. Religion aside, our faith, our Christian faith cautions us not to be deceived by appearances: there is more to birth or death–or life for that matter!–than can be measured empirically. The birth that really counts is baptism into, of all things, the death of Christ Jesus. Death is not just life stolen away but could be a willing laying down of life so our Father in heaven can raise it up.
If we are born into that compass of time and space, when we die we are freed from those shackles. We as Christians already have a taste of that from our sacraments which play at the boundary between time and eternity, geometry and boundlessness. When we are baptized into the death of Christ, his dying is now just as his resurrection is now; his dying and rising are as knit into our flesh as into his own. They are not just data recalled from two-thousand years ago.
When we celebrate the Eucharist, we are at the table of the Upper Room, we are beside the water jug of the washing of the feet; we stand at the altar of the cross and before the empty tomb. Each of those events impinge on one another, are dimensions of the eternal Son of God, incarnate as Jesus of Nazareth and in him have always overreached the limits of time and space. In him time and eternity, space and infinity make their peace.
Doctor Who has nothing on the Incarnation!
When we celebrate those who have died in Christ or when we pray for our beloved dead or patch up our differences with our alienated departed, we are doing nothing “extra”. We are, in fact, entering more deeply into the victory Christ has already won, into the healing Jesus has already accomplished, into the prayer our Lord offers the Father. We are doing no more–and no less–than being members of the Body of Christ and entering into the redemption he accomplishes, the great fulfillment only he can accomplish. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in him may have eternal life, and I shall raise him on the last day.