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       Caring for a dead or a living body ?

The women leave for the tomb with their spices (Lk 24:1). They are well equipped. Two days earlier they took note of the tomb and how the body had been laid. Then they went home and prepared, with expertise, spices and ointments. They had prepared all that was needed to care for a dead body.

And then, stunned amazement … the body is no more. They feel puzzled : they are told that He is alive ! They are now called to care for a living body… resurrected ! What a shock, what a change ! Spices and perfumes are no longer an issue. They leave their jars like the Samaritan woman left her water jug, no longer useful. The only perfume that ended up being used was Mary’s, one week earlier, in Bethany. A broken jar, emptied, also no longer useful. Poured out on a living body in anticipation of a funeral rite.

How many times have we resigned ourselves to death, to loss, to collective decline ! We prepare spices, we manage the future by honoring a by-gone past. And surprise, we aren’t called to embalm something that has died, but we are called to honor a life ! This means celebrating life, announcing its victory, forever stronger. 

Dealing with death, managing it, organizing it, means death in itself is something we agree to work with. Yet, Jesus is clear, "Leave the dead to bury their dead !" (Mt 8:21). We are called to deal with and participate in life. 

Notre-Dame of Paris burns ? The Church is shaken by scandal ? The yellow vest movement vents its rage ? Sri Lanka is battered by deadly attacks ? Congregations weaken before our very eyes ?

And yet there is this "extraordinary power" (2 Co 4:7) that propels us forward, with unstoppable energy, "we see no way out but we never despair […] struck down but not destroyed" (2 Co 4:8-9). The effects of the Resurrection are present, we resist where we should have been destroyed. Amazing ! Life will always amaze us … Together, let us share in this unbelievable, unshakeable, unassailable joy.

Sr. Anne Chapell - Angelica n°55 - May 2019

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