You must think I am beginning to sound morbid with “death” being my favourite topic in a lot of my posts…
But I can’t help being fascinated at the centrality of death in God’s narrative.
So often we rush into life and resurrection, out of our discomfort with the concept of death, and we end up with some
sort of over-realised eschatology… In a sense, I find this to be the theme of 1 Timothy: do not escape the pain and death of this life… Christ came, suffered, died and THEN, only THEN did he rise from the dead. Let’s keep the hierarchy of events straight. So often we run to feast on the fruits of resurrection without first running to follow the lamb to His death. We fear death and suffering as if they were not defeated, as if they have powers over us. How different from the persecuted church of the first two centuries of our era. St. Athanasius said that there is no stronger evidence that death is dead than the martyrs who gladly embrace it.
Which makes me wonder what our mission is to each other… How do I prepare my brothers and sisters for life? Do I puff them up, cheer them on with some sort of pseudo-triumphalism that they’ll be alright, protected, happy, healthy? Simone Weil said: “in a time such as ours, where affliction is hanging over us all, help given to souls is only effective if it goes far enough really to prepare them for affliction.”
I am perpetually struck by the woman with the alabaster. She spent her life’s resources to anoint Him for burial, unlike Peter who stood in His way to prevent Him from death. St. John of the Apocalypse prepared his churches for persecution, death, the end of the cosmos. He prepared his church for the pains of labour which precede and are essential for new life to come.
I hope to grow in maturity and stop “insulating” the people I love from pain. The alabaster must break to “anoint for burial”…