Dying to be born

Paul was no “early adopter.” He was an ardent resister who persecuted the followers of Jesus. He had to die first. Something of him–he would say all of him–had to die before he could be free to follow.

Paul spoke eloquently of dying because he got it. He had been there. Out of utter emptiness he found a new life. “I have been crucified with the Messiah …it isn’t me any longer….” “The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”

Many years ago I heard Bishop Mortimer Arias of Bolivia describe how his people gather for Easter Vigil’s long, dark hours of prayer and singing. He said as the first hint of dawn appears, everyone begins to groan.

This year, the world is groaning in vulnerability to suffering and death.

Richard Rohr recently wrote that the “spiritually transformed people I have met … have all died before they died. They…went through a death of their old, small self and came out the other side knowing that death could no longer hurt them.”

This pandemic reminds us that each of us will die sooner or later, from one cause or another. If we can look death in the face and know deep down that death cannot ultimately hurt us, then we will have experienced Easter.

An “extraordinary” Easter in Jerusalem amid coronavirus closures (Aljazeera story by Rosie Scammell, photo by Ammar Awad/Reuters)

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