Meditations for Each Day of Lent by St. Thomas Aquinas
The Burial of Christ
She hath wrought a good work upon Me. She in pouring this ointment upon Me hath done it for my burial.–Matt. xxvi. 10-12.
It was right that Christ should be buried.
1. It proved that He had really died. No one is placed in the grave unless he is undeniably dead. And, as we read in St. Mark (ch. xv), Pilate, before he gave leave for Christ to be buried, made careful enquiry to assure himself that Christ was dead.
2. The very fact that Christ rose again from the grave gives a hope of rising again through Him to all others who lie in their graves. As it says in the gospel, All that are in the grave shall hear the voice of the Son of God. And they that hear shall live (John v. 28, 25).
3. It was an example for those who by the death of Christ are spiritually dead to sin, for those, that is, who are hidden away from the turmoil of human affairs. So St. Paul says, You are dead; and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. iii. 3). So, too, those who are baptised, since by the death of Christ they die to sin, are as it were buried with Christ in their immersion, as St. Paul again says, We are buried together with Christ by baptism unto death (Rom. vi. 4).
As the death of Christ efficiently wrought our salvation, so too is His burial effective for us. St. Jerome, for example, says, “By the burial of Christ we all rise again,” and explaining the words of Isaias (liii. 9), He shall give the ungodly for His burial, the Gloss says, “This means He shall give to God and the Father the nations lacking in filial devotion: for through His death and burial He has obtained possession of them.”
The Psalm (Ps. Ixxxvii. 6) says, I am become as a man without help, free among the dead. Christ by being buried showed Himself free among the dead indeed, for His being enclosed in the tomb was not allowed to hinder His coming forth in the Resurrection.