Ash Wednesday 2016 — The Sanctity of Life


John 3:4-8, 16-17

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that who-ever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 

In his great work On the Trinity, Augustine of Hippo wrote of Jesus, “He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also He suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which He was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which He was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before Him nor since.”

This year as well, March 25 will mark both the Feast of the Annunciation and Good Friday, the day the ancients believed Jesus’ life both began and ended. Scholars will question the historical accuracy of this tradition; after all, the Bible does not specify which date Jesus was born or died. What the Bible specifies clearly is the purpose of Jesus’ incarnation and death. Jesus came to this world to die for this world. He came to live a life fulfilling the Law so He could offer His life for all who have broken the Law. Augustine’s dates may be off, but his point is spot on. The Jesus who hallowed the virgin’s womb also hallowed the virgin tomb. This Jesus sanctifies all lives and provides the way out of death.

So we Christians approach life, our neighbors’ lives, and death differently from the world when our faith and love are perfected by knowledge of Christ (Phil 1:9). Christ Jesus is the life of all the living. He is the life of the blessed dead who live in Him.

As we approach this March 25, the 40 days of Lent are a time of self-discipline. This year, these devotions aim to help us discipline our minds so that when we see the struggles in our own lives, we see the life of Christ working all to good; so that when we see our neighbor, no matter his skin color or gender or level of development, we see the life of Christ, Savior of the nations; so that when we see the boasting of death, we see the life of Christ, triumphant in resurrection.

Lord Jesus, give us eyes to see You, the life of all the living! Amen.

Rev. A. Daniel Guagenti
Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Shelbyville, KY