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Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Cycle C

Reflecting on Luke 8: 51-62

I used to just HATE the part in today’s gospel where Jesus tells his disciples to “let the dead bury their dead.” So, who WOULD bury their parents, if the sons were off being disciples of Jesus? My guess was that it was going to be their attentive daughters.

But then I learned this: those dusty archaeologists (bless them) who spend their lives digging in the scorching Mediterranean sun have given us a very comforting explanation of this MOST unsettling command in today’s Gospel.It’s simply this: the burial time for the dead in Jesus’ day was an entire year.  After burying the dead immediately—as we’ve seen in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ own death—the sons “sit shi’va” for seven days.

But then 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 the bones of all the other family dead 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.

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 what God has planned for My tomb, and yours, and theirs too. Death is not the last word. Just follow me. You’ll see.

What are the burial customs in your family?

Kathy McGovern ©2022

Ordinary Time - Cycle C

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