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Thirteenth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C

Reflecting On Luke 9:51-62

I’ve got good news.  Those dusty archaeologists (bless them) who spend their lives digging in the scorching Mediterranean sun have given us a very plausible (and comforting) explanation of that MOST unsettling command in today’s Gospel: let the dead bury their dead. It’s simply this: the burial time for the dead in Jesus’ day was an entire year.  After burying the dead immediately (as we saw in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ own death) the sons “sit shi’va” for seven days.  (So the disciple who asks to bury his father before following Jesus wouldn’t even have been around if the death had happened within that week—he would have been at home fulfilling this responsibility.)

Ancient tomb in the Mount of Olives

But then the corpse is left in the tomb for eleven months, after which the relatives re-bury the decomposed body by taking the bones and placing them in a burial box, an ossuary, and placing it back in the tomb, along with all the other family dead who are in various stages of burial.  The tomb continues to fill with the other dead from the family, buried for the first time and then again a year later.

So…what a great relief to consider that Jesus was thinking of all those dead, buried with the other dead, whose death demands kept the sons in endless burial cycles. Let the dead bury their dead.  Be at peace.  My heavenly Father knows where all the bodies are buried.  In just a short time you will see for yourselves what God has planned for My tomb, and yours, and theirs too.  Be at peace.

So be at peace.

Sharing God’s Word at Home:

What are the burial customs in your family?

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I have come to light a fire on the earth; how I wish it were already burning (Lk.12:49).

Kathy McGovern © 2014-2015

Ordinary Time - Cycle C

6 Comments to “Thirteenth Sunday – Ordinary Time Cycle C”

  1. I always thought “let the dead bury their dead” meant to let go of the past and look to the future. Jesus replaced the Old Covenant with the New and gave us the great commandment to love God and one another. If we love God and one another, we won’t violate any of the Ten Commandments, because acting lovingly will put us in complete compliance with all of the commandments.

  2. I thought that meant, that those who died without knowing the the word of Christ were dead in spirit and those more cocerned with eathly matter were dead in spirit. those who chose to follow Jesus at any cost were saved and would be alive eternaly. We are told through this reading that God provides us with the means we need to live now and in eternity. For instants when we go into debt to bury someone in a costly funeral we are really doing it for show. many of our Popes have been buried in pine boxes. we put a great price on showmanship and forget that the living need help with their daily needs like food and shelter, or a place to worship and talk to God about the burdens of their hearts. why bury our mony and more so our souls in everyday trivia.

  3. Since mass, my husband and I have debated “let the dead bury their dead,” which he insists has never been adequately explained by the church. I reply that the words of Christ are, like many of his remarks, paradoxical. He retorts with a pun: “Paroxical is simply a pair of docs.” So now comes this wonderful discussion initiated by Kathy McGovern. Ah, this statement can be taken literally as well as metaphorically…we must not engage in “endless burial cycles” if they impede us from following Christ. Nor must we grieve endlessly. The interpretations above also add a richness to the scripture. Yes, we must “let go of the past.” And yes, we “need to live now and in eternity” His words resound: “be at peace.”

  4. The concept of the resurrection of the dead has always fascinated me. It takes not only faith but also religious imagination to think how we will come back in a glorious state after having been buried. Though I don’t plan on using it for a long while, I purchased my little box to house my remains after being cremated. I want to avoid the expense of a coffin. Thinking that God knows where every ash is as well as every bone is even more amazing to me. It brings me back to a sense of everyday life and to the realization that the God I believe in knows not only the sparrows and me, but every fiber of who I am. And then, when there is nothing left of my body God still knows my soul and can “knit me together” forming me once again as God “formed me in my mother’s womb.”

  5. I just saw a NOVA on this! How cool that even NOVA follows the Church calendar (or maybe I DVRed it!) Either way, the Holy Spirit lined it up!

    I knew that Jewish tradition asked for family to morn for a year but I didn’t realize that the bones were reburied in communal family ossuaries. This gives us all kinds of things to think about . . . Elijah’s “dry bones,” Lazarus, Mary, even Jacob’s bones coming out of Egypt. We were so focused on death and the ritual of it that Jesus knew we needed to change our focus to life and the living of it!

  6. It’s wonderful to read the thoughts on this difficult reading. Thankfully we have God’s plan and, even though it’s hard, if we follow Him and act with love we will be at peace!

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