We gratefully remember you, Jesus,
because your life and death teach us how to live as your disciples.
No suggestion, or even promise of resurrection, Jesus, could assuage the magnitude of desolation that filled the hearts of your women disciples. They were thwarted in their need, as your friends, to channel their grief by performing the ritual before entombment: anointing your tortured and disfigured body with embalming spices and ointment, wrapping it in linens, and resting it in the tomb of Joseph of Arimethea.
Jesus’ abiding faithfulness to his Father was reflected in the loyalty of a few who were overcome with grief over his torturous death but still abidingly faithful to him. Nothing would keep them from honoring his mutilated body and preparing it for burial except timing because of the law honoring the Sabbath. But Joseph from the town of Arimathea, confronted Pilate to gain his permission to claim the body of Jesus. He was able in time to at least wrap it in linens, and place it in a tomb belonging to him. As a prominent Jew, a member of the Council of chief priests and elders, he had, as a lone voice, courageously opposed the dictum of the other members of the Council who declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy. In the mayhem of that infamous Friday with Jesus enduring a litany of disgraceful reproach and of torture, there shone the brightness of enduring friendship and affection – even in the enormity of an innocent’s death.
Suffering is one of the deepwater mysteries of human existence. It can neither be explained nor controlled, but it can be met by a deepwater mystery of equal force – the mystery of human presence.
- Alan Lew