Monday, 6 April 2015

"Your death, my life" or "My death your life"

The thought for Good Friday by Rev Paolo Castellina is on the phrase "Mors tua vita mea". 


“There is a Latin expression that reads "Mors tua vita mea" which is the law of the jungle. This prevails at every level in this fallen world. It seems to be ancient in origin, meaning "Your death, my life" (or: your death (is) my life). Beyond the dramatic tone of the literal sense, this term is used when within a competition, there can be only one winner. It indicates that that failure of one person is a prerequisite for the success of another.

"This concept is commonly used to describe effective behaviour characterized by opportunistic characters. It is a term that means that the damage of one person is often an advantage to another, or set out in a broader sense, it alludes to the harsh laws of life, and the struggle for existence. It also seems to be a phrase that gladiators recited before entering the Coliseum in Rome.

"If this is reality, normal in this fallen world, this concept is completely turned upside down by Jesus, who teaches “My death, your life". This is the law of the altruistic. This concept remains counter-cultural. It is the lifestyle of the new world, the new creation, the message of Good Friday. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to lay down his life for his friends" (John 15: 12-13)”.


I would add a couple of further thoughts. 

First, the kernel of Christianity is the intentional "turning upside down" of the stereotypes and laws of the visible, fallen world.  The Nativity and Crucifixion are clearly undermining the worldly accepted wisdom that power, wealth, status and overcoming evil belong together. 

Second, today, with the modern atomisation of family, community and church which are really interchangeable, since church was community, altruism is no longer seen as socially advantageous as it used to be. Modern "me" culture despises selflessness and admires freedom to do what we please. It often praises those who trample on others in order to win or to suit themselves. Individualism and winning is what counts today, or so some would like us to think.

So should we believe liberalism that individualism and freedom will deliver all our desires to the full, make us the envy of our neighbours and leave us filled with good thoughts and feelings instead of sadness, loss and guilt. Or should we swim against this tide as Jesus did and take up our Cross and die to all the laws of this world.  We must all make up our mind.

Scripture teaches
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart". Psalm 34.7.

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