Last Sunday, I talked about death.
Maybe too much for some of you.
Death can make us uncomfortable.
It should make everyone stand up and take notice.
Death is the great equalizer.
No one escapes.
Not to worry.
God provided the “anti-death-sting” solution.
Paul writes of it,
“When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable,
and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”1 Corinthians 15:54-57
Many people take the anti-death-sting “inoculation” approach to God’s gift to us.
A “get out of hell free card.”
But this is not the point.
Eliminating the sting of death is meant to allow us to live.
I mentioned on Sunday that Lazarus,
After dying from an illness and then being brought back to life,
Could not have simply gone back to his pre-death state.
I would have had to change him.
It would change me.
Many people who were my patients as a hospice chaplain
shared with me their “things I wish I would have done differently” list.
Many had regrets.
Many had been sleepwalking through life.
Punching the clock.
Towing the line.
Not stopping long enough to reflect on what matters.
But it is important to stop and smell the roses.
It is vital to consider life with death in full view.
That is what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel.
Mary’s “wasteful” gift of perfume, which was equal to nearly a year’s worth of wages, was burial prep.
This is what Paul is talking about in the second reading.
He, willingly, gave up his privileges and achievements.
His burial prep.
Which he writes about,
“I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”
Sleep walking through life is not really living.
Being intentional about our affections,
giving thanks for the numerous blessings
and shaking off the things in life that hinder relationships is better.
The Lenten season is meant to reboot that focus within us.
To remind us that we are on a long journey in the same direction.
That we walk this faith path together with our many brothers and sisters.
That God’s Holy Spirit is present with us.
That there is grace along the way when we fall short.
It is our reminder.
“Do not remember the former things,Isaiah 43
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Brothers and sisters.
We are about to wake from this season of fasting, self-reflection
And study into a season of liveliness.
As we approach Holy Week,
let us continue to seek God’s wisdom on life.