BY: Fr. Christian Eze



One of the regular tasks of a Catholic priest is to bury the dead. During the so many funeral Masses I have celebrated, I have come to notice that no matter how calm a bereaved family may appear, there is likely to be an out-burst of cry during internment at the time the grave is being covered. This owes to the fact that the very act of covering or closing the grave is a process that suggests “it is finished” and it is a total hopelessness as far as the earthly existence of the dead person among his/her loved ones is concerned.. That is when the pain that the dead has gone out of sight forever is mostly felt.

Everyone would come away, abandoning the body in the lonely grave. Perhaps such feelings may still have come upon Joseph of Arimathaea and the women who looked on when he “rolled a large stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away” – Matt. 27:60. No wonder, none of the four gospels omitted a comment on the stone that covered the grave of Jesus. At the Lord’s resurrection, the fact that the stone, which indicated a total annihilation of hope, has been rolled away gave the women who were the first to visit the scene where the resurrection took place a special joy. While the death of Jesus in the flesh was so dispiriting to the disciples, His resurrection put new spirit in them.

Hope once lost has been regained, and the death that once conquered has itself been conquered. The stone of hopelessness has been rolled away. Sometimes in our lives, there are situations we would look at and we feel very discouraged and grow faint hearted. Such could amount to the stone of hopelessness which its being rolled away would give us joy. The resurrection of Jesus did not only roll away the stone at the tomb. What we are talking about here is hope for the hopeless, light at the end of that dark tunnel, joy to the sorrowful of heart. Let us come to think of it. While our life on earth it tossed around by many difficulties, one could still find some hope courage so long as death has not struck. We see it in the popular expression, once there is life, there is hope. But the question is: what happens when there is no longer life? It means all hope is gone. At the emergency ward, we observe how the doctors and their medical team would be running about courageously. But as soon as the patient’s body grows still and the doctor points his medical touch light to notice a fixed and dilated retina and other signs of death, He stands still or shakes his head in a total surrender. Death therefore is the greatest conqueror of man. What we celebrate at Easter is that this greatest conqueror of man has been conquered. Commenting on this, St Paul mentioned: “Death is swallowed up victory” – 1 Cor. 15:55.

You may be having challenges as big as the stone at the tomb where Jesus was laid. Your “big stone” could be a protracted ill heath, joblessness, childlessness, joylessness – all hopelessness. Yet, no stone could be bigger than the grave stone. Don’t just stop at the earthly stone. In sin, the devil killed mankind and covered the grave with a heavy stone. At the Lord’s resurrection, this stone has been rolled away. Why would we not rejoice! If the heavy stone of sin is rolled away, what other stone would not be moved by the power of Christ’s resurrection? Alleluia!

Igbo song: Omewo ya omewo ya tinye jara, Omewo ya omewo ya tinye jara. Ihe ahu siri ike n’ime ndu m ooo. Jesus emewo ya tinye jara.


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