(Source: "Meditations for Lent from St. Thomas Aquinas", pp. 78-79, 1937 Imp.)
FEAST OF THE HOLY WINDING SHEET
Joseph taking the body, wrapped it up in a clean linen
cloth and laid it in his own new monument. -Matt, xxvii. 59.
1. By this clean linen cloth three things are
signified in a hidden way, namely:
(i) The pure
body of Christ. For the cloth
was made of linen which by much pressing is made
white and in like manner it was after much pressure
that the body of Christ came to the brightness of the
resurrection. Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and
to rise again from the dead the third day (Luke xxiv. 46).
(ii) The Church, which without spot or wrinkle
(Eph. v. 27), is signified by this linen woven out of
(iii) A clear conscience, where Christ reposes.
2. And laid him in his own new monument.
It was Joseph's own grave, and certainly it was some-
how appropriate that he who had died for the sins
of others should be buried in another man's grave.
Notice that it was a new grave. Had other
bodies already been laid in it, there might have
been a doubt which had arisen. There is another
fitness in this circumstance, namely that he who
was buried in this new grave, was he who was
born of a virgin mother.
As Mary's womb knew no child before him nor
after him, so was it with this grave. Again we
may understand that it is in a soul renewed that
Christ is buried by faith, that Christ may dwell by
faith in our hearts (Eph. iii. 17).
St. John's Gospel adds, Now there was in the
place where he was crucified, a garden; and in the
garden a new sepulchre (John xix. 41). Which recalls
to us that as Christ was taken in a garden and
suffered his agony in a garden, so in a garden
was he buried, and thereby we are reminded that
it was from the sin committed by Adam in the
garden of delightfulness that, by the power of his
Passion, Christ set us free, and also that through
the Passion the Church was consecrated, the
Church which again is as a garden closed.
(In Matt. 26.)
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