As you may have noticed with the posts on Mary, the sister of Lazarus, and on Judas, I have been thinking about some of the characters who are mentioned in the last days of Jesus' life. Joseph of Arimethea is named as the one who asked Pilate for Jesus' body so that he could be buried quickly. In John's gospel, Nicodemus assists Joseph with the burial rites (John 19:38-42).
It seems to me that Joseph and Nicodemus did this at great risk to themselves as Jews. Jesus had been killed for being a blasphemer and insurrectionist. Stepping up to claim the body closely associates them with Jesus - something none of the remaining apostles were around to do. And so, although hurried, they perform a great act of mercy. Burying the dead is known as one of the Corporal Works of Mercy.
Nowadays most of us don't have the opportunity to physically bury someone. We have funeral homes to handle the preparation of the body and cemeteries to prepare the grave site. Yet from time-to-time we have the opportunity to attend funerals in order to honor the one who has died and to comfort the grieving. It is an act of mercy to do so (Matthew 5:7) and a means of fulfilling the command to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40).
For Reflection: Have I ever thought myself to be too busy to attend a funeral? Have I in any way dishonored the dead? Have I made plans for my own death and funeral? As he was dying, Jesus made arrangements for his mother (John 19:26-27). Perhaps the next time I attend a funeral I will remember Joseph and Nicodemus who gave of themselves in a time of need.
Let us pray. Jesus, may I be as faithful to you and to others as Joseph and Nicodemus were.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.