IF WE HAVE DIED WITH CHRIST, WE BELIEVE THAT WE SHALL ALSO LIVE WITH HIM
(A biblical reflection on HOLY SATURDAY [YEAR A], April 23, 2011)
One of the various readings at the Easter Vigil: Rom 6:3-11
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. We know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For he who has died is freed from sin. But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him. For we know that Christ being raised from the dead will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him. The death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives He lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. (Rom 6:3-11)
Sin had brought eternal death to all men and women. Who could save them from such a condition? When Jesus died on the cross that Friday afternoon, He did not die alone. He took with Him our fallen nature, our old self that had so stubbornly resisted God’s love and plan. There on the cross with Him, this nature was put to death forever. Jesus took the punishment we deserved so that we could be made ready to receive the new life of Easter morning. Because the sinless one suffered the fate of sinners, the original curse was broken. God’s children were restored to their heavenly Father and enabled to live by the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! Jesus’ death and resurrection opened heaven to all who would believe in Him – a hope for life in Him after death, and a reality to begin tasting here and now.
Death and life – What a stark contrast we have on this Holy Saturday! We pass through a day in the liturgy where all is silence. As the day begins, many of our churches will be bare – the tabernacle empty as we share liturgically in Jesus’ death and burial. Yet, as the Easter Vigil begins this evening, we will be introduced once again into the fullness of life through His resurrection to glory. Tonight, our churches will be resplendent withy new life and beauty. The contrast in the course of a single day is great indeed.
In a passage that will be read tonight at the Easter Vigil,Saint Paul teaches us that we share both in Jesus’ death and in His resurrection. Our own baptism is itself a paradox of life and death. Through baptism into Jesus’ death on the cross, we die to sin. And, through the same baptism into His resurrection, we too are raised to a new life in His Spirit. What a glorious contrast our life is meant to be! As we die every day to self and sin, we receive new life through the power of Jesus’ resurrection. The life of the risen Lord is in us because we have been baptized into Him. His power is within us to change us. By His Spirit, we can begin to live a new life.
Holy Saturday is an excellent opportunity for us to seek this new life by spending time in prayer and reading God’s word in the Scripture. As much as we are able, let us make this a day of seeking God in silence and waiting. Let us anticipate the gift of new life that we will receive tonight as we renew our baptismal vows and participate in the Easter liturgy.
Today is an opportunity to grow closer to Jesus and receive more of His life. Jesus has conquered sin, death, and Satan. We can experience the victory of His death and resurrection this day. We can experience the victory of His death and resurrection this day. We can expect tangible changes in our lives in the days and weeks ahead, because we have received the power of the risen Christ.
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus, I want to share more deeply in Your life this day. Help me, Lord, to overcome sin through the power of Your death and resurrection. Give me new life in the Holy Spirit! Amen.
Jakarta, April 19, 2011
A Christian Pilgrim