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Death, it seems, is so final. Today, we seal the tomb. We walk away; everything done and dusted. We can do the same in life as in death. We can bury everything inside us – every disappointment, doubt, fear, anxiety, sadness, anger – and pretend that it is all done and dusted. In the process, we bury ourselves alive.
Let’s face it: this story of Passion Sunday is the story of failure. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but Jesus dies. The Kingdom doesn’t come. The dream becomes a nightmare of betrayal, desertion, cowardice, deceit, brutality.
One last cry of surrender is followed by one last breath. Is this how it all really ends? For Jesus? For any of us? Are we condemned to a slow death, forced to bury any remnant of hope deep down inside us?
But the real lesson today is not about how to die.
The real lesson today is about how to live.
Jesus’ death teaches us that there is more to dying than death, and there is more to life than being buried alive.
This is the story of love pushed to its very limits,
reaching out beyond the edge of darkness.
And what happens? Again, I don’t want to spoil the ending, but there is no ending, not today anyway. The slow death of our defeats, our disappointments, our doubts, our fears, our anxieties, our sadnesses, our angers, our slavery to sin – these crosses of shame – is broken open. Love – the Greatest Love – bursts forth in a way that is utterly surprising, utterly unexpected, and utterly astonishing. So here is the real lesson: Life can be a slow kind of death if our gaze is turned so deeply inside us that we fail to see that the tomb always remains open. When we become all there is, then all there is isn’t much at all—ultimately, just a deep, dark hole. God saves us from ourselves because, in Jesus, God breaks down the door and open us to God’s life and love forever and ever and ever. Death, and all our little deaths in life, need not be deaths at all. Because of Jesus, everything that seems deadly is, in reality, turned on its head and becomes the story of possibility, life and love. Even Death, it seems, is not so final after all. The glimmer of light we see today will become the brightest of Easter Light from Light, destroying every darkness and death. Fr. Anthony