Sometimes we find in our lives a need to cry out with Jesus in desperation: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) and then we know with Jesus that despite human appearances, God is with us, even in tragedy, suffering and death.
At other times, meaning in tragedy can only be found in saying with Jesus: “Father, forgive them for the know not what they do” (Luke 23:34) and then we trust God that His forgiveness, mercy and love will somehow and miraculously make right and whole that which had been destroyed or at least that God will forgive us for our willingness to destroy the Good.
Still there are other times when we come to understand the suffering and evil have no power over Jesus Christ our Lord, nor do they have ultimate power over any of us who are united in Christ. We may suffer, but we realize the suffering is only in this world and is temporary for Christ has overcome the world.
We have been on a long spiritual sojourn together have followed God into the desert of Great Lent, and walked with Christ into Jerusalem to the cross. We who have been baptized into Christ began a walk with Christ, that began right at the tomb of Christ. We died with Christ in baptism – we came to his tomb, as St. Paul says:
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (Romans 6:3-5)
Baptism brings us to the tomb of Christ, where we die with Him in order to be raised with Him. It is no accident that we are here, but is God’s own plan for us. And we are here by our own choice – by accepting Christ’s call to discipleship. And all of us who have chosen to follow Christ have received His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. And what are we told about the Eucharist?
In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Corinthians 11:25-26)
Every time we drink the cup of Christ’s Blood, we proclaim His death, we end up at the tomb of Christ which also happens to be the fountain of the resurrection. Christ’s own death is a significant part of our salvation. We need to proclaim His death, we need to be at His tomb, to remind ourselves that our union with God comes in and through the death of God’s only-begotten son, Jesus Christ.
Our long Lenten pilgrimage has brought us to the tomb of Christ. And here we remember all that Christ has done for us, and how He was willing to suffer for us and die for us. But the tomb is not meant to be a shrine that we stay at and adore.
Because at the tomb of Christ we also hear the angel tell us, what?
He is not here! He is risen! (Matthew 28:6)
The death of Christ which we personally experience in baptism and proclaim at every Eucharist and which is essential to our salvation, is still not our destination – if we want to be with Christ He is not at His tomb. For we know now that Christ is sending us out into the world to live the resurrection and to share this good news with everyone we might meet. The tomb of Christ it turns out is another sign of the Kingdom of Heaven, just like all the miracles Christ performed. The tomb of Christ is telling us to continue our spiritual sojourn, to go out and live in the world, but live in the light of the resurrection.