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 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! As we saw in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ burial, the dead were buried before sundown. Recall that, in Genesis 50:1-14, Joseph “mourned his father” for seven days. Following that tradition, the disciple who asked to bury his father before following Jesus would already have observed seven days of mourning―”sitting shiva”― at home for seven days.
After the burial the corpse was left in the tomb for eleven months, after which the relatives re-buried 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 were in various stages of burial. The tomb continued 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. Your 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. So be at peace.
What are the burial customs in your family?
Kathy McGovern ©2016