Today’s reading is how, through the death of Christ, we have conquered death. Death is no longer victorious over us. Pretty straightforward stuff.
But I also think today’s reading is about life. Because it is through death, that we are reborn. Peter knows better than many people, including the apostles perhaps, that every person must first “die” in order to give themselves entirely over to God. That is, we must give up our narcissism, our belief that we are the center of our world.
The first step is to accept Christ as our personal savior. I assume that, if you are reading this, you will have likely already done this. But, that is just the beginning of our walk to conquer death. Living the life that Jesus envisions for each of us is not easy as it means to live each day as if it is our last and to love every person we come into contact with in the way that Jesus would have loved them.
This is the message of verse 58 of today’s reading. Each of us needs to excel in the work of the Lord. It is only in doing this work that our labor is not in vain. The reward is everlasting life – the only reward worth the effort.
Holy Week reminds us of the true sacrifice Christ made so that each of us would have the opportunity to have everlasting life. This past Holy Week, I watched the “Passion” movie on Maundy Thursday. I’m not sure why, but just watching that movie made Good Friday all that more moving to me. The Liturgy just came alive for me in a way that it had not in past years. To give up his life in the way that it was taken from him is such an evocative and iconoclastic story.
It certainly renewed in me a desire to be a better servant to Christ. My body is dying a little more every day. I can’t do much about that other than to take on healthy habits. I have much more control over how I live my life and making decisions that would bring me closer to the life after death that Christ has in store for me.