As an act of piety, Joseph of Arimathea seeks permission from Pilate to remove the body of Jesus from the Cross. Hastily, and without adequate preparation of the body, Jesus is wrapped in a linen shroud for his burial. From a hymn on Holy Friday we sing: "Woe is me, sweet Jesus, Whom but a while ago, when the sun beheld suspended upon the Cross, it was shrouded in darkness, the earth quaked with fear, and the Veil of the Temple was rent asunder. Albeit, I see that You willingly endure death for my sake. How then shall I array You, my God? How shall I wrap You with linen? Or what dirges shall I chant for Your funeral? Wherefore, O compassionate Lord, I magnify Your Passion, and praise Your Burial with Your Resurrection, crying, Lord, glory to You!"
The death of our Savior was for the salvation of all humankind. In this icon of the Lord’s burial we become the witnesses to the Holy Gospel. The face of Christ bears no bitterness, but rather expresses a feeling of total inner peace and tranquility. The Virgin Mother of God embraces the body of her Son with extreme tenderness. This is her moment of grief and yet, it is also one of acceptance. St. John the Evangelist leans over the body of Christ, as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus begin to place the body into the linen shroud. Christ has encountered death and we await the announcement of His victory over death. We await the celebration of His glorious Resurrection.
We learn valuable lessons in STEWARDSHIP from the events of Holy Week. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, secret disciples of Jesus, knew that if they had publicly acknowledged Jesus they would have lost their positions in life. Immediately following the events of the Crucifixion, however, they make a new commitment to the Lord. They are no longer worried what the Jews might say as they take Jesus down from the Cross. Joseph of Arimathea sacrifices the tomb prepared for his burial and gives it to his Master. He sees the burial as an opportunity to commit himself to the Lord with unending love.
What a beautiful tribute it is when one gives of his possessions to benefit another. This is exactly what Christian STEWARDSHIP offers — an opportunity and privilege to be faithful to our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
See: Matthew 27:57-61; Mark 15:42-46; Luke 23:50-56; John 19:38-42
To learn more, visit the Department of Stewardship.