The pattern of Christ’s death PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 03 November 2017 13:44

REFLECTION

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

A PASSAGE in the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians should enlighten us about how our attitude should be toward death.

It’s when he said: “All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death.” (3,10)

What is this “pattern of his death” that St. Paul talked about? It is nothing other than freely assuming the attitude of Christ toward death. He came to assume all the sins of men that have brought death to us, from Adam to the last man and woman.

It is nothing other than wanting to die with Christ with the same intention of bearing all the sins of men, so that the death of Christ, who is the Son of God made man, can fully repay the debt that man cannot repay due to his sin against God.

That is why Christ freely accepted death. He did not avoid it. He went to it when it was the time to die. “I lay down my life, that I may take it again,” he said. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord, I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (Jn 10,17-18)

With Christ’s death, the sting of death as a consequence of our sin has been removed. The eternal death that was due to us because of our sin has been conquered with Christ’s resurrection to the eternal life.

St. Paul describes this truth of our faith very vividly.

“When the perishable put on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory” O death, where is thy sting.” (1 Cor 15,54-55)

We need to follow St. Paul’s attitude toward death. Like him, we need to reproduce the pattern of Christ’s death. Death to us should not just be a natural occurrence, a mere consequence of sickness, old age, accident, calamity, etc.

Our death has tremendous theological significance which should shape our attitude toward it. It therefore should not be considered simply as an unavoidable curse or misfortune. In a way, it is something that we look forward to, just as Christ looked forward to his own death. St. Paul echoed the same sentiment when he said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil 1,21)

It’s important that we slowly but steadily acquire this Christian attitude toward death. Everyday, we should be ready to face it since it can come to us anytime. The day of the Lord, St. Paul tells us, the day when we would be asked for an accounting by God can come like a thief in the night. (cfr 1 Thes  5,2)

Therefore, let us assume the attitude of Christ towards death—that of dying with him as a repayment of all the sins of men, ours and those of everybody else, and that of looking forward to it unafraid of what pain and suffering may be involved.

This Christian attitude toward death should not in any way undermine our proper love for life. For as St. Paul said: “If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.” (Rom 14,8)

Last Updated on Friday, 03 November 2017 13:49